Free-agent closer Greg Holland agreed to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on opening day after resurrecting his career last season following a return from Tommy John surgery, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.
The 32-year-old Holland, ranked 19th in Yahoo Sports’ Ultimate Free Agent Tracker, led the National League with 41 saves for the Colorado Rockies and put together one of the best first halves in baseball before a dreadful second-half stretch tanked his ERA for the season.
Over three August weeks, Holland allowed 14 runs in 6 1/3 innings and nearly lost his closer’s job. The Rockies stuck with him, and by year’s end, his ERA was 3.61 and he had struck out 70 in 57 1/3 innings. It was a wildly successful return after elbow reconstruction sidelined him for the entire 2016 season.
Holland’s free agency stretched until late March despite players without nearly his pedigree having fetched $9 million a season. He also did not accept a qualifying offer – essentially a one-year deal for more than $18 million – preferring to test free agency.
With Holland comes a fastball that found itself following the surgery, a vicious slider that’s his hallmark and the occasional split-fingered fastball. It’s the arsenal that made him one of the most underappreciated players on the World Series-winning Royals. Alongside Wade Davis, then Holland’s apprentice and now the only reliever likelier to get more money than him, Kansas City started the dominant-bullpen trend that continues to be copycatted.
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