Big-money free-agent signings in late March aren’t all that common, but the Cardinals pulled one off exactly two years ago. In hindsight, they probably wish it wouldn’t have happened. On March 31, 2018, the Cardinals added right-handed reliever Greg Holland on a one-year, $14MM contract. Holland was supposed to solidify the back end of the Cards’ bullpen, a unit that lost then-standout Trevor Rosenthal to Tommy John surgery late in the previous season. Instead, though, Holland endured a woeful few months as a Cardinal, didn’t finish the season in their uniform and has seen a once-great career continue to go downhill since then.
Holland entered free agency off a nice 2017 showing in Colorado, where he led the National League in saves (41) and logged a 3.61 ERA/3.72 FIP with 10.99 K/9 and 4.08 BB/9 over 57 1/3 innings. Not dominant numbers overall, but Holland picked up his third All-Star nod and was quite strong outside of a couple of blowups. Plus, the fact that it was his first action after a serious injury made his production look even better.
Holland’s best known for putting up excellent numbers in Kansas City from 2011-15, and he was close to untouchable during the Royals’ pennant-winning 2014 campaign. The decline began after that, though, as Holland suffered a torn right ulnar collateral ligament that ended his 2015 season in September. The injury prevented him from aiding the Royals in their run to a World Series championship that fall, forced Holland to undergo Tommy John and then caused him to sit out all of the next season.
Both the Rockies and the Cards were clearly impressed by the post-surgery Holland in 2017. He turned down his half of a $15MM mutual option after the season, but the Rockies then issued him a $17.4MM qualifying offer. Holland also said no to that, which may have been a mistake; however, expectations were that he’d beat that guarantee on the open market. MLBTR forecast a four-year, $50MM guarantee for Holland, but it turns out that he was not among the several free-agent relievers that winter who found a lucrative multiyear contracts (former Royals bullpen mate Wade Davis, who took Holland’s place in Colorado, led the way). Unfortunate for Holland, but considering the way his career has gone since then, the rest of the league’s teams dodged a bullet.
Because he didn’t sign until a couple days after the Cardinals’ season began, Holland did not have the benefit of a normal spring training. He took a bit of time to ramp up and then debuted with St. Louis on April 9, which proved to be his first of several poor outings with the club. Holland took the loss in that game after walking four of the five batters he faced. Walks were an all-too-common problem throughout Holland’s brief run as a Cardinal, as he wound up posting an extremely unusual and hideous line consisting of a 7.92 ERA with 7.92 K/9 and 7.92 BB/9. Holland never even registered a save for the club, which cut ties with him on Aug. 1, 2018, and ate almost $5MM in the process. To worsen the blow for the Cardinals, because Holland was a QO recipient, they had to cough up their second-round pick in 2018 and $500K of international money for inking him.
To his credit, Holland quickly rebounded from his abysmal Cards career. He closed 2018 in outstanding fashion as a member of the Nationals, with whom he recorded an almost flawless 0.84 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. Holland couldn’t follow that up in 2019, however, as he ended up with mediocre stats as a Diamondback. And they, like the Cardinals a year before them, designated Holland for assignment before the season concluded.
The 34-year-old Holland is now once again looking to rebound, this time back in his old Kansas City stomping grounds after the Royals reunited with him on a minor league contract in January. Perhaps Holland will revive his career either in KC or elsewhere in 2020, but the fact that he settled for a non-guaranteed deal two years after receiving such a sizable payday shows how far he has fallen.
Here they come.
Why remind us?
7.92 ERA, 7.92 K/9, AND 7.92 BB/9??
The man is nothing if not consistent.
Terrible, is another descriptive word for those stats. It’s fitting that he followed Rosenthal in StL. They have had two of the ugliest stat lines I’ve ever seen.
Cardinals have been dry lately producing home grown talented players like the past. They need to to fire their scouts and revamp their whole farm system. The only player they have right now from the farm is their #1 starter and he is not proven just yet because he has only a half season of lights out pitching while the rest of the time he has pitched above avg
Aren’t Edman, Wong, and DeJong from their system? Bader looks like a good player too. They also produced Tommy Pham & Carson Kelly, although they’re gone.
This guys hasn’t a clue if he thinks that of their system…I know Carlson still has to prove himself but they have him…most of their roster last year that got them to the NLCS came from their farm…other players not on their team they produced…Voit, Mercado,…players they still have…Dejong, Wong, Edman, Flaherty, Hudson, Hicks
Jordan Hicks and some guy named Molina are Cardinal draftees. And I guess we can forget about Matt Carpenter’s 3 all star showings and 4th place mvp placement as a 13th rd pick
Didn’t you hear Hicks threw his arm out which means bad? Molina is done, his skills have diminished. Carpenter is a wreck and a payroll burden. You did leave out Martinez, but he also is done and has wore out his pitching arm. Stay in the moment and that is how I rate things but I know Cards fan live in the past. Today the Cardinals are underdogs and are not a power and their fans arrogant and all need to realize this. Not saying you in particular mr. Perkins. The Cardinals were the best team in baseball for a long stretch
You really dont know baseball if you think that. Mostly you’re just spewing hate but you be you, I guess.
Ok let’s talk about the future…home grown talent coming up…Of course you will say these are unproven players, and they are but with the cardinals player development I like the future…Herrera future catcher takes over for home grown talent Molina…Gorman future third baseman takes over for homegrown talent Carp…Carlson, O’Neill, Thomas, Bader, Williamson, and others coming up in the outfield already have Dejong locked up…Cardinals could extend Wong or let Edman take second base…Flaherty, Hudson and the way ponce was throwing in Spring Training big part of the rotation…not to mention Gomber…Not to mention they now have Libetore and who knows now that Reyes is Healthy he might be a big part also…Relievers Junior Fernandez, Hesley, Cabrera, Gallegos…and what did you say about Hicks? Yea I mean young guys barely come back from TJ surgery lol…the cardinals have a ton of money coming off the books in the next two years…they haven’t a losing season since 2007…they just made the NLCS last year…sorry they can’t win you a World Series every year bud…give me a break
Finally Cardinals fan here who is making a good point. Ok, I can respect your thinking card81
Interesting choice for a name when its pretty obvious you don’t know enough baseball to even look at the Cardinals system. Most analysts have them in or near the top 10. Also interesting to say Flaherty isn’t proven despite his production the past 2 seasons. Goldy and Fowler are also the only 2 starters that not are homegrown players.
You no more
completely wrong. the Cardinals have been kept afloat by homegrown talent, not the other way around.
I agree, however, I’d look a little higher up the food chain, Mo seems to have lost his “mo-joe” (sorry couldn’t help it). Seems to be a status-quo mind set.
An honest fan and realist. What happened to being real Jmlang? I agree with you. Living with the idea of hope is killing the Cardinals from being dominant again.
Also not on this day but still another goodie Andrew Miller
The Andrew Miller signing has not gone well so far.
John Mozeliak excellent at drafting and developing talent, not so great with the pen that leaves ink drying on contracts. More recently he’s also not been so great at making trades. I’ve noticed a pattern but I don’t wanna talk about it because it makes me sick. Some of his deals are like ha happy April fools day!
Why do you say he hasn’t been good at trades of late? I get a little with what you are saying maybe because he traded away good talent…but that talent was traded from depth…those trades also need to play out…for example the Mercado trade..John Torres is a talent and might be a better talent than Mercado…he is young so we shall see but let it play out…ultimately though he replenished the farm by putting Torres behind others like Carlson O’Neill and others…Mo is always thinking ahead with the farm…for example the Arezeno trade to get Lebitore…trading from depth to replenish
Cards have managed to develop players through their system to be better than projections. They’ve gotten the most out of many guys. Signings and extensions have been less kind.
There is nothing wrong with the Cards farm system. They churn out average players better than just about any other system.
The moral of the story though is DON’T pay for relief pitching!
“probably wish it hadn’t happened?” Understatement for sure.
Still believe there are no bad one year contracts. But then it’s not my money
About the only bright spot is the Cardinals farm System. A few Exceptional current young players already starting or contributing. Several others should already be on the team but past Hero’s such as currently underachieving Matt Carpenter is blocking 2 players who should already be on the 26 man roster. The Farm System is a tribute to Girsch. Not Mozeliak.
That’s just stupid…no way is this a tribute to Girsch…I’m not saYing he didn’t help but that is a ridiculous statement…Jocketty was let go because he didn’t believe in a homegrown talent to fill the roster like Mo did…they let him go and gave Mo the job…Mo was in charge of the draft when they got Molina and Pujols…just because you don’t Like Mo don’t try and discredit him…Girsch does the paper work…with that said I will agree MOs free agent signings have been horrible of late…I will take the good with the bad but to say Mo doesn’t have anything to do with the draft is ridiculous…Luhnow learned from Mo and even took what Mo credited to Houston
John Mozeliak of the Cardinals has made many- inexcusable expensive mistakes for the Cardinals over the 5-6 years. Mozeliak has financially strapped down the Cardinals on expensive contract mistakes on former stars who are no over the hill. Thank goodness for General Manager Michael Girsch who has been in charge of minor league player development since he was even the Asst. General Manager!!!
Cards81—-I keep up on your post and you show a lot mor baseball sense than a lot of others. I don’t hate John Mozeliak. I agree, when he first came up, he was good in taking the Cardinals to the next level as a MLB General Manager!!! I also agree about the good he did in his early draft picks!!! As you referenced—Molina & Pujols—plus the trade including Wainwright. He was great in his early days!! However, he now signs people hoping for “lightning in the bottle” (His own words). Seems to be grabbing at straws—instead of using his god given talent of the use of symmetrical precepts—-combined with common sense. As a former sports radio news reporter, I developed a great relationship with Michael Girsch from the first day he walked into his first Cardinal Spring Training. Through all of this time we’ve kept up on an occasional basis. He has been a great asset to the Cardinals Farm system.
I’m not saying Girsch has nothing to do with the current system and player development but let’s not forget that Mo created the way the cardinals draft and develop players…like I said Luhnow worked under Mo and took what Mo created to Houston and found success…Correa even said he hacked into Houston’s system to prove that this was so…I’m not saying I don’t like Girsch I do …but he is also just using MOs system…now has Mo strapped the cardinals with bad contracts? You better believe it…I kinda understood the Fowler signing at the time, although I didn’t like it because he was an ex cub and all…but still I saw what he was trying to accomplish…did Mo give him to much money and years yes…the Cecil, Holland signings were inexcusable…and the extension of carp was just stupid…so yes Mo has made mistakes but what GM hasn’t…can we have baseball back please
Cards81—-I agree with everything you just said!!! You and I think exactly alike.