The Cardinals began the reconstruction of their bullpen Friday by designating for assignment veteran righthanded reliever Greg Holland, who had been signed to be their closer, and promoting prized righthander Dakota Hudson from Memphis.
The team announced the move Friday afternoon amid a flurry of transactions that reshaped the bullpen in an afternoon.
In addition to designating Holland for assignment, the Cardinals did the same to lefty Tyler Lyons. The Cardinals also traded righthanded reliever Sam Tuivailala to Seattle for a minor-league reliever. And, the Cardinals placed lefty Brett Cecil on the disabled list with inflammation in his right foot.
The Cardinals promoted lefty Tyler Webb from Memphis and righthander Daniel Poncedeleon, along with Hudson.
Luke Weaver was promoted, as planned, to start Friday night's game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium.
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John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said,“Clearly things weren’t working out in the bullpen. Making radical changes, or as many changes as we did ... we had internal resources we wanted to give a chance to.”
Mozeliak said that, for now, Hudson and Poncedeleon both would be in the bullpen, as would Austin Gomber, who threw 6 1/3 hitless innings in his first start for the club last Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Holland, who had 41 saves for Colorado last season, was signed on opening day to a one-year, $14 million contract after failing to secure a multi-year deal as a free agent. But, after spending only a week of spring-training-like work in Jupiter, Fla., with the Cardinals’ Class A team, Holland could not get untracked.
The slider specialist never really found command of that pitch or his fastball for that matter. He was 0-2 with no saves and a 7.92 earned run average and walked as many hitters (22) as he struck out in 25 innings.
Mozeliak said he was “shocked” that Holland didn’t work out.
“You make a $14 million investment and obviously your expectations are very high," said Mozeliak.
"We can all look back and have our own opinion as to why it didn’t work ... the narrative of no spring training ... should we have had him throw more innings at the minor league level before activating him? All these things are fair questions but the reality is that when he did get that chance, he did not have command. That was paralyzing to him.”
Hudson, 13-3 with a 2.50 ERA at Memphis, was pulled in the second inning of his start Wednesday in Salt Lake City, signifying that a move involving his coming to the big leagues was imminent. A No. 1 pick in 2016, Hudson, a former No. 1 pick who is one of the top ground-ball pitchers among major league prospects, has given up just one home run this season.
In exchange for Tuivailala, the Cardinals acquired righthander Seth Elledge from the Mariners and assigned him to Class AA Springfield. Elledge, 22, was a top 10 prospect for the Mariners, according to Baseball America, and he had nine saves and a 1.17 ERA in 31 games for Class A Modesto.