When it comes to saving baseball games, do you like hopeful projections or a proven commodity?
I ask this question because former Colorado Rockies closer Greg Holland is still looking for a home, and the Cardinals technically don't have a proven closer in-house.
USA Today MLB reporter Bob Nightengale predicted Tuesday that the Cardinals would land Holland at two years and $25 million dollars. Is Bob climbing up the dreaming tree, or is he truly onto something? Let's dig into it.
GOOD DEAL ARGUMENT
We lived in a different world back in October when I wrote that acquiring Holland for 3-4 years would be a bad play by the Cardinals. With the market colder than ever and the Cards bullpen still needing some direction, Holland wouldn't be so bad at two years and $25 million. That deal gives the Cards time to figure out where their young darlings fit in and how much the older guys have left.
Holland saved 41 games last year in the treacherous confines of Colorado, which marked his fourth straight season (discounting a Tommy John deprived 2016) with 30+ saves. 2017 went off the rails in the second half, but Holland righted the ship with a strong September. He'd give the Cards the definitive 9th inning option and Dominic Leone could be your setup man with Luke Gregerson handling 7th inning duties. Tyler Lyons could swing around for one- or two-inning assignments when needed. It makes sense.
BAD DEAL ARGUMENT
By trading for Leone, the Cards acquired a guy who could close. What Leone lacks in experience, he makes up in pitch selection nastiness. The man tamed the American League East last year, holding games and helping Toronto remain respectable in a tough division. If not Leone, you could finally give some credence to Sam Tuivailala's potential, especially since the kid found his way in 2017 in time split between Memphis and St. Louis. Don't forget about Lyons or young gun Jordan Hicks trying out the closer role.
Holland is 32 and could break down quickly in 2018 or 2019. A two-year deal may be a plank walk any way you slice it. Do the Cards want to take that chance when their rotation looks more in need of restoration? Nightengale added that the Cubs were the favorites to land Yu Darvish, so would that upgrade be matched by the Cards addition in the pen?
Holland is assured, but do the younger guys stand a better chance?
I'd be in favor of a two-year Holland deal. As worrisome as his second half of 2017 was, he got things together in September and could be a nice fit in St. Louis on a short-term deal. This doesn't mean Tuivailala is lost, but he could become a good trade piece if he continues to show control of his fastball and command of his secondary pitches. Leone, Gregerson and Lyons could fill out a number of roles. Holland could fit into the equation. If you aren't going to aide the rotation, beef up the bullpen so the end of games aren't a blindfolded, nametag-scribbling thriller.
At a lower term and cost, Holland makes sense.
What do you think, Cardinal Nation?