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Cardinals close to deal with Greg Holland

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Jon Heyman reports that the St. Louis Cardinals are close to a deal with closer Greg Holland. It’s apparently a done deal, with only Holland’s physical required to make things official. It’s reportedly a one-year, $14 million deal.

From the moment Holland hit free agency — before he did, actually — the Cardinals seemed like the most obvious fit for Holland. They needed a closer, having let Seung Hwan Oh, Trevor Rosenthal and Juan Nicasio walk, Holland was reported to be interested in coming to St. Louis and all that needed to happen was for them to agree on money. Except it never happened. Holland rejected the Rockies’ qualifying offer — effectively costing him over $3 million this year — the Cardinals waited Holland out all winter and now, hours before their Opening Day game, they seem poised to land him.

Holland, 32, had a solid season with the Rockies last year, saving a league-high 41 games with a 3.61 ERA and a 70/26 K/BB ratio in 57 1/3 innings, though he slowed down as the season ended.

He’ll have to ramp up now, having had no spring training to speak of. It likely won’t be long, however, until he displaces Dominic Leone, Bud Norris, Jordan Hicks, Tylor Lyons an eventually-healed Luke Gregerson or whoever else the club bluffed about being good enough to handle the job while negotiating with Holland’s agents.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.