Who Can Close? Cards Free Agent Options

The St. Louis Cardinals entered the offseason with a few glaring holes.  The need that caught most fans attention is the lack of the middle of the order bat.  Cardinals management took an obsessive approach in filling that hole, eventually landing slugger Marcel Ozuna from the Marlins.  Cardinals fans have turned their complaints to a new place, the bullpen, more prominently the closer position.  Relievers have become a commodity in the MLB garnering contracts that just a few years ago would have been laughable.  If we assume that the Cardinals don’t use one of their current relievers as a closer what options are left on the open market?….and what will it cost?

With the biggest free agent reliever on the market signing 3year/52million dollar contract with the Colorado Rockies, many believe the market is set.  What direction should the Cardinals go in?  Let’s rank the options.

3. Tyler Clippard, 32, Career Saves 61

Tyler Clippard is coming off of arguably his worst season in the major leagues, most probably don’t even realize he was actually on the World Series Champion Astros roster at the close of the MLB season.

Clippard is not your prototypical closer, he doesn’t throw 100 every pitch he relies on deception, movement and a plus changeup in order to get outs.  Clippard has performed well as a closer, 2012 with the Nationals Clippard posted 32 saves for a team that walked into the playoffs. While Clippard has not been able to repeat those numbers he does bring an intriguing element to his game, he is a fly ball pitchers.  50% of Clippard outs are recorded through the air.  The Cardinals have one of the most athletic outfields in baseball entering the 2018 season.  With the addition of gold glover Marcell Ozuna in the outfield and the further development of Tommy Pham to center field Clippard can have more confidence in pounding the strike zone.  The spacious Busch Stadium outfield can also give Clippard the confidence to pound the strike zone.

While Clippard isn’t the sexy pick for closer, his veteran presence can be a nice stop gap to help young relievers like John Brebbia and Tyler Lyons develop more confidence to one day take the job.


2. Greg Holland, 32, Career Save 189

Greg Holland is going to be a closer somewhere in 2018. Holland established himself as a true star pitching in the confines of Coors Field finishing the season with an astounding 41 saves.

Holland’s negatives are the fact their is a health risk.  Missing the entire 2016 season and parts of the 2017 really hurt Holland’s value leading into 2018 free agency.  His experience and ability are unquestionable, but the injury risk and high cost that Holland will command may turn off the Cardinals.  Their is also the lingering question of why Holland’s former team would decide to shell out the money to Wade Davis when they have the connection to Holland.

Statistics are always in Hollands favor but the fact that he sits atop of the current available reliever pull could demand multiple years and a lot of money.  While the Cardinals have stated that money is not a problem a projected $15million a year for a guy with a recent injury history could be to much of a gamble for an organization that tends to be cautious in these situations.

1. Addison Reed, 28, Career Saves 125

Addison Reed entered the 2018 free agent market as an after thought as his Reed role changed mid-way through the season after being dealt to the Boston Red Sox.  Before he was Craig Kimbrel’s setup man, Addison Reed was recording saves for a pretty pathetic Mets team. One of the best things about Reed is his low walk rate. His career walk rate is 2.3 per nine innings, and over the last two years it’s even better, 1.6 per nine innings, to go along with a 9.8 per nine strikeout rate. His WHIP of 0.996 over the last two seasons (total of 153⅔ innings over 157 appearances) is outstanding.

Reed will enter 2018 in his age 28 season with very little recent injury history.  A pitcher in his prime playing for a contending team is the right mixture to equal success for the Cardinals and Addison Reed.  The Cardinals can get a quality reliever that is ready to close now for $8million per season. Picking up Reed could be the move that solidifies the Redbirds bullpen for years to come at an extremely affordable rate.


Honorable Mention:

Huston Street: Career Saves 304

Too old and to Injury prone.  Worth a look if its cheap.



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