Alex Reyes is one of the internal options the Cardinals likely will consider as the closer this season if they don't make a trade or sign a free agent. (File)

By Rob Rains

Alex Colome is still a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Greg Holland and Addison Reed are unsigned free agents. There are six weeks left before the Cardinals will arrive in Jupiter, Fla., for the start of spring training.

Will one of those three be wearing a Cardinals’ uniform by then and assume the still-vacant role as the team’s closer?

Or do the Cardinals already have their future closer among the 20 pitchers on their 40-man roster or will he emerge from the group of non-roster pitchers coming to camp?

In the 11 seasons since 2007, seven pitchers have led the Cardinals in saves and only once, with Ryan Franklin, did the same pitcher lead the team in saves for three consecutive years (2008 through 2010). Since 2011, Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Edward Mujica, Trevor Rosenthal (twice) and Seung Hwan Oh (twice) have all led the team in saves.

Where will the revolving door stop this season?

Here is a rundown on the leading candidates to be the Cardinals closer by the time the regular season begins:

External options

Alex Colome – Speculation was that the Rays would trade Colome three weeks ago during the winter meetings but that didn’t happen. The Rays are notoriously slow to complete deals, although they did send longtime third baseman Evan Longoria to the Giants. It had been believed the Cardinals could agree to take on Longoria’s contract to increase their chances of getting Colome and perhaps even starter Chris Archer, but without being able to use that as leverage, they now might have to send more of their top prospects to the Rays in exchange for the 29-year-old Colome, who led the American League with 47 saves last year and will not be eligible to become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

Greg Holland – Holland is represented by Scott Boras, which explains why he hasn’t signed. The three-year, $52 million deal Wade Davis got from the Rockies no doubt will affect Holland’s asking price. The 32-year-old Holland earned $6 million last year when he recorded 41 saves for Colorado after sitting out 2016 following Tommy John surgery. Concerning, however, was the fact his ERA in the second half of the year was 6.38. The Cardinals have traditionally not overspent on signing a free agent closer, which they might have to do – both in terms of dollars and years – to land Holland.

Addison Reed – The 29-year-old Reed has been both a closer and setup reliever during his seven years in the majors and had 19 saves for the Mets last season, when he earned $7.75 million, before he was traded to the Red Sox on July 31. Reed has 125 saves in his career, including a career-high 40 for the White Sox in 2013. He reportedly was talking with the Phillies about a three-year deal during the winter meetings and also with the Rockies before they signed Davis. Signing Reed would not cost the Cardinals a compensation pick in the June amateur draft.

The only other two free agents with significant experience as closers in their career are Tyler Clippard and Huston Street, but there has been no indications the Cardinals are interested in signing either of them.

Internal options

Luke Gregerson
– Among the 20 pitchers on the 40-man roster, Gregerson has the most career saves with 66, including 31 for the Astros in 2015. He likely projects more as a setup reliever, however, at this point in his career.

Alex Reyes
– Reyes was very effective pitching out of the bullpen when he first arrived in the majors two years ago, but has only one career save. The biggest questions about putting him in that role is that the team is projecting he likely won’t be ready to pitch until May 1, and the belief is he will still be needed in the rotation by the middle of the season. That plan could change if he arrives in Jupiter and shows he can be ready when the regular-season begins.

John Brebbia
– A former Independent League pitcher, Brebbia quietly was very effective in a setup role for the Cardinals with an impressive 51 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 51 innings. He likely will be a longshot for the role, however, as his only real closing experience was 19 saves for Laredo in the American Association in 2015. He also had three saves for Memphis last season before his promotion to St. Louis.

Matt Bowman – Bowman is another setup reliever who could get a look as the closer. He earned two saves last year, when he led the Cardinals with 75 appearances. Overwork is a concern for Bowman, however, and as is the case with Brebbia, he probably will not get the first shot at the closer’s job if the team decides to try to fill the position internally but could be a candidate down the road.

Adam Wainwright
– One of the requests Wainwright made of former manager Tony La Russa was he either wanted to make the first pitch of the game or the last pitch, meaning he wanted to be either a starter or the closer. He does have three career regular-season saves on his resume, but they were 12 years ago in 2006. At this point, Wainwright is penciled into the rotation but has to prove in spring training his right elbow is sound. One theory behind making him the closer would be that it would control the workload on his elbow, which underwent a medical cleanup at the end of last season.

Derian Gonzalez – Gonzalez was added to the 40-man roster in December and probably is too young, 22, and too inexperienced to win the closer’s job now, but he definitely should be a candidate for the role in the future and it will be interesting to see what he does in spring training. Gonzalez has yet to pitch above Class A and has primarily been a starter, but with the abundance of quality starters in the organization some of the team’s best pitchers are going to have to move to the bullpen. Gonzalez appears to be a leading candidate to make that switch.

Dakota Hudson
– Like Gonzalez, Hudson has been a starter since joining the organization as a first-round pick in 2016 out of Mississippi State. Still only 23, Hudson split the 2017 season between Springfield and Memphis and comes to spring training as a non-roster invitee. Despite having success as a starter, Hudson also appears to be the type of pitcher who could transition to the bullpen if needed.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains