11:28am: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Holland will be designated for assignment — not released. That may well be a moot point, as the DFA will merely give the Cardinals a week (it had been 10 days prior to the new version of the CBA) to either trade Holland or place him on outright or release waivers. Holland would be able to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency anyhow, so if the Cards aren’t able to find a taker on the trade market — which would assuredly require them to eat the vast majority of Holland’s remaining $4.89MM salary — then it seems he’ll hit the open market regardless.
11:17am: The Cardinals are expected to release right-hander Greg Holland today, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (Twitter links). His roster spot will go to pitching prospect Dakota Hudson, who is set to have his contract selected from Triple-A Memphis, per Morosi.
That report certainly meshes with some recent comments made by president of baseball operations on the Bernie Miklasz Show on ESPN 101, in which Mozeliak said to “expect changes” to the club’s bullpen in the near future (Twitter link). The Athletic’s Mark Saxon recently speculated that Holland would be cut loose and that Hudson would be brought up to the big league roster (Twitter link).
The Cardinals’ decision to sign Holland to a last-minute, one-year contract with a $14MM guarantee on Opening Day proved to be a catastrophic misstep for the club. Not only did St. Louis surrender a valuable selection in the 2018 draft to do so, but the Cardinals received nothing in the way of on-field value from the 2017 National League saves leader.
Holland missed all of Spring Training while waiting to find a deal he and agent Scott Boras dubbed suitable, and the Cardinals made the eyebrow-raising decision to bring him to the Majors after just two minor league appearances. Holland struggled immediately, walking four batters in his Cardinals debut on April 9. Those struggles were the first of many in 2018 for Holland, whose Cardinals tenure will come to a close with a 7.92 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 22 walks over the life of 25 innings.
As for his replacement on the roster, Hudson will come to the Cardinals having drawn considerable fanfare since being selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He ranked as the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect on this week’s updated Top 30 rankings from Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and while he falls outside that duo’s Top 100 overall prospects, Hudson is still viewed as a potential mid-rotation arm. The 23-year-old has pitched to a 2.50 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a hefty 57.7 percent ground-ball rate through 111 2/3 innings in Triple-A Memphis this season.
Though Hudson is being promoted to replace a reliever, it seems quite likely that the organization will deploy him as a starter. Saxon speculated before that John Gant and/or Austin Gomber could be moved to the bullpen, with Hudson stepping into a starting spot and giving the Cards a couple of months to evaluate his future. Callis and Mayo note that while Hudson has four average or better offerings, led by his fastball and his slider, he still doesn’t miss many bats. His fastball/slider combo is strong enough, though, that he could work in relief even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, per their report.