March 31: The Cardinals have made the signing official.
March 30: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that Holland’s salary is not pro-rated. He will earn the full $14MM sum regardless of when he is added to the big league roster. Beyond that, his contract comes with the standard awards bonus package ($50K for All-Star or a playoff MVP Award, $250K for Rivera/Hoffman Relief Award, etc.).
It does not, however, sound like anything will be finalized today. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Cards are still reviewing his physical and still need to lay out a preparation plan for Holland to get into game shape.
March 29, 10:35am: Heyman tweets that Holland will earn $14MM on a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
10:25am: Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports that the two sides have agreed to terms on a deal (Twitter link). The contract is still pending a physical.
10:16am: The Cardinals and free-agent closer Greg Holland are moving close to a deal, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The 32-year-old Holland, a client of the Boras Corporation, is the lone remaining top-tier free agent that has yet to sign.
Holland paced the NL with 41 saves and 58 games finished as the Rockies’ closer last season but stands alone as the last remaining top-tier free agent on the open market. Reports have indicated that the righty received an offer to return to the Rockies earlier this winter, but Colorado pivoted and signed Wade Davis after Holland didn’t bite on their initial proposal.
St. Louis will stand to benefit from a collapsed market, as they’ll now land one of the better available relievers of the winter for a value that falls shy of the $17.2MM qualifying offer and $15MM player option that Holland rejected back in November. The Cards had previously been set to enter the season with Luke Gregerson handling ninth-inning duties, but the veteran Gregerson has been slowed by an oblique injury in camp and, more recently, a hamstring issue that will shelve him to open the year. Dominic Leone figures to open the season in the ninth, though he could very well give way to Holland once the former All-Star works his way into game shape.
The Cardinals, clearly, will be hoping for the dominant form that Holland displayed through the season’s first three months before wilting in the second half of the year. August proved to be a particularly dreadful month for the former Rockies stopper, as he surrendered 14 runs on the strength of four homers in just 9 1/3 innings.
While he rebounded with a solid finish in September, Holland’s fastball velocity and location were off for much of the summer — even when his ERA wasn’t reflecting it — and his struggles returned against the Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card game. Of course, given that the 2017 season was Holland’s first back from September 2015 Tommy John surgery, it’s perhaps not surprising that he faded down the stretch. Certainly, it’s plausible that fatigue played a significant role in those difficulties.
In order to sign Holland, the Cardinals will forfeit their second-highest pick (their second-round selection) in the 2018 draft as well as $500K of international money. Because he signed a contract for less than $50MM in total guarantees, Holland will net the Rockies a draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B — in the 75 to 80 range of the draft.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.