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Closer Holland signs deal to join Cardinals

Right-hander adds experienced late-inning presence to St. Louis' bullpen
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

NEW YORK -- The Cardinals' commitment to not naming a closer lasted the entirety of spring. On the first day of the season, they acquired one of the best in baseball.

The Cardinals struck an agreement with All-Star Greg Holland prior to first pitch Thursday, on a one-year contract worth $14 million. The deal was made official on Saturday.

NEW YORK -- The Cardinals' commitment to not naming a closer lasted the entirety of spring. On the first day of the season, they acquired one of the best in baseball.

The Cardinals struck an agreement with All-Star Greg Holland prior to first pitch Thursday, on a one-year contract worth $14 million. The deal was made official on Saturday.

Holland's deal includes incentives for awards, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

"We liked our club coming out of Spring Training, and it all works out, this will make us stronger," Mozeliak said.

The 32-year-old Holland provides an answer to the late-inning questions club officials talked around all spring, and brings clarity to a bullpen picture heavy in options but lacking in defined roles. With nominal closer Luke Gregerson on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, the eight-man unit St. Louis broke camp with sported a combined 37 career saves.

Video: MLB Tonight on Holland signing with Cards

In Gregerson's absence, the club planned to rely on a closer carousel consisting of Tyler Lyons, Dominic Leone and rookies Mike Mayers and Jordan Hicks. None of the four pitchers have earned a single big league save.

Holland has been one of the games best closers since 2013, his first full season in that role. He missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but recorded 166 saves in four seasons surrounding that injury, including an National League-best 41 in 2017 with the Rockies. Holland won the NL's Comeback Player of the Year Award last season.

Holland owns a 2.60 ERA over 377 career innings, and has struck out 11.9 batters per-nine over the course of his seven-year career. He went 3-6 with a 3.61 ERA for Colorado last season, when he struck out 70 batters in 57 1/3 innings.

But Holland's numbers took a steep turn after the All-Star break. He saved 28 games with a 1.62 ERA in the first half and saved just 13 with a 6.38 ERA in 26 games after it.

Video: COL@LAD: Holland gets 38th save, locks down 5-4 win

He'll earn a significant raise from the $6 million he made with the Rockies, but on a deal significantly shorter than the one he sought at the start of the offseason. Holland was one of several talented free agents to find their markets surprisingly stilted, and the only one to wait out the entire offseason before signing.

Since Holland turned down the Rockies' $17.4 million qualifying offer, the Cardinals had to forfeit their second-round pick, No. 59 overall, in the 2018 Draft. They also lose $500,000 from their international bonus pool. The Rockies receive a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B.

Holland cannot be extended a second qualifying offer, meaning he will become a free agent again next offseason without a potential qualifying offer attached to him.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Greg Holland