Opening day of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season with a full slate of games, kicked off on Thursday. The St. Louis Cardinals hope to contend for the National League Central with the defending division champion Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Sources said the Cardinals reached a deal to sign Greg Holland for one year pending a physical. Holland was one of the leading closers last season in the National League for the Colorado Rockies but was an unsigned free agent during the entire offseason and spring training. The deal is estimated to be for $14 million.
In 2017, the veteran reliever declined a player option of $15 million for 2018 with the Rockies. He saved 41 games in 2017 for Colorado which tied for the league high in just his first season back from undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Prior to last season’s All-Star break, Holland posted an ERA of 1.62 saving 28 of a possible 29 games he appeared in.
However, during the second half of the season he struggled with a record of 2-5 and converted just 13 of his 16 save chances, while posting an ERA of 6.38. Holland allowed a pair of runs during the NL wildcard game in which the Rockies lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Following the Cardinals loss to the Mets in Thursday’s opening game, manager Mike Matheny said all he knew was that a physical was pending.
Late in the 2015 season Holland hurt his right elbow and sat out the entire 2016 season while rehabbing from his surgery. Holland was the closer for the Kansas City Royals most of both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, when the American League team reached the World Series two consecutive seasons winning one title.
Prior to his injury in late 2015, Holland had been considered one of the game’s most dominant closers posting an ERA of 1.21 in 2013 and 1.44 in 2014.
During those two seasons, in which he was an All-Star in both, Holland was able to convert 93 out of 98 save opportunities. In 2015, his ERA was 3.83 and he had 32 saves prior to the team shutting him down at which time he underwent his surgery.