The St. Louis Cardinals decision to decline Matt Holiday’s 2017 option could be good news for the New York Yankees in their quest to add power this winter.
St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak recently revealed to reporters that the team plans to decline left fielder Matt Holliday‘s $17 million team option, instead paying him a $1 million buy out.
Holliday hasn’t played since August 11th since fracturing his right thumb after being hit with a pitch. Perhaps a bigger factor in the Cardinals decision to decline the option, however, was his disappointing production before the injury.
The 36-year-old seven-time All-Star hit .242/.318/.450 (103 OPS+) with 19 home runs in 424 plate appearances. When you factor in his negative value in the field and at the plate, this probably wasn’t a difficult decision for St. Louis, despite Holliday’s status in the organization.
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While his days are a true superstar, there are reasons to believe Holliday can be a solid contributor going forward, especially if he signs with an American League club who can give him a part or full time role as a designated hitter.
According to Baseball-References Total Zone metric, Holliday was seven runs below average in left in just a half-season of work. He’s never been a wizard with the glove, but now he’s getting into Carlos Beltran territory.
Holliday has played a little first base, so it’s worth asking if the Yankees use him as their primary DH, but also use him as a platoon partner for Greg Bird at first base and Brett Gardner in left field.
The fact that St. Louis wouldn’t give him a one year $16 million contract suggests that the Yankees might be able to sign him for less than that. In the short term, Holliday seems like a decent bet to replicate the production of the top bats available like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion with the stress of playing the field at a fraction of the price.
GM Brian Cashman loves to find buy-low opportunities, and depending on how Holliday is viewed around the league following his down season, it seems possible that there could be one here. He’s dealt with injuries the last two years, so there is a concrete reason for his diminished numbers.
Neither Holiday or Mozeliak ruled out a reunion between the two sides, so this all may be a moot point, but it’s a situation worth monitoring at the very least.