According to national baseball writer Jon Heyman, Colorado Rockies right-handed closer Greg Holland plans to “opt out and aim high.”
That is, he’ll take a pass on a $15 million contract option with his current club and instead try to cash in as a free agent.
First in line to secure his services, says USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, will be the St. Louis Cardinals.
This season Holland, 31, led the National League with 41 saves in 46 opportunities and made his third All-Star appearance. He also surrendered a career-high seven home runs in 57 innings pitched and his 3.61 ERA was second highest only to his 3.83 ERA in 2016.
Holland spent his previous six years as a member of the Kansas City Royals. In 2013, he registered a career-best 47 saves with a 1.21 ERA, striking out 103 batters in 67 innings. He followed that season up with 46 saves and 1.44 ERA in 2014.
The Rockies signed Holland as a free agent in January, paying him $6 million for 2017 with the player option for 2018.
What might Holland cost the Redbirds?
Heyman sources a couple of anonymous baseball executives who believe Mark Melancon’s four-year, $62 million deal could set the market for Holland. Scott Boras, Holland’s agent, will likely place no such limit on his client’s value.
The Cardinals’ bullpen was much maligned through the early part of the season. Just as the team played its way into striking distance of the NL Central Division leading Chicago Cubs, Seung Hwan Oh began to experience hamstring problems and Trevor Rosenthal went down with an elbow injury that will require off-season Tommy John surgery.
Juan Nicasio was signed off the waiver wire to bolster the St. Louis’ stretch run, but the team lost six of seven September games to the Cubs, who on Thursday advanced to their third straight National League Championship Series with a Game 5 divisional series win over Washington.
As Rosenthal goes under the knife, Oh, Zach Duke and Nicasio will hit the market. That leaves Matt Bowman, John Brebbia and Tyler Lyons among those in the bullpen to have received save opportunities.
Cardinals general manager Mike Girsch indicated in a post-season press conference the team’s interest in acquiring a middle-of-the-lineup bat.