Yankees Free Agent Showdown: Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday?


The New York Yankees have expressed their interest in free agent sluggers Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday to fill their 2017 designated hitter vacancy.

While the New York Yankees have kicked the tires on some of the big name free agent sluggers on the market this winter like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, general manager Brian Cashman has done the majority of his shopping in the discount section recently, and I don’t think that is likely to change given his commitment to rebuilding the team through the farm system.

That might be for the best anyway, as the market is flush with veteran power bats who will have to settle for a cut-rate, one-year deals because of the limited number of open DH jobs next year.

Two of the more prominent players from this group are former superstars Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday. Their best days may be behind them, but both were still fairly productive middle-of-the-order hitters in 2016 and seem like solid bets to remain so for at least one more year, especially if they aren’t asked to play the field. Both Holliday and Beltran played significant time in an outfield corner last season and that really shouldn’t happen again with either guy in 2017.

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Both Holliday and Beltran played significant time in an outfield corner last season and that really shouldn’t happen again with either guy in 2017. These guys will be aged 37 and 40 respectively for the majority of next season, and whatever mobility they had on defense and on the basepaths has more or less evaporated.

Although he is almost three years older, Beltran was the more productive of the pair in 2016, hitting .295/.337/.513 (122 OPS+) with 29 home runs and 93 RBI in 593 plate appearances split between the Yankees and Rangers.

Incredibly, even though he played the last two months of the season with another club, Beltran managed to finish sixth among New York’s position players with 1.7 WAR in pinstripes according to Baseball-Reference and finished with a solid two wins overall despite his defensive shortcomings.

The main problem with Beltran is that many players seem to fall off a cliff when they hit 40 and he appears to be hotly pursued by the Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Astros, to the point where he might end up signing with whoever gives him a two-year offer. I don’t think GM Brian Cashman will want any part of that.

Holliday, on the other hand, seems to be in line for a one-year contract to rebuild value after missing considerable time each of the last two seasons due to injury. The seven-time All-Star has not had the advantage of the additional rest that comes with DHing full-time, so he seems like a prime candidate to rebound from a just-OK 2016 campaign back to something closer to his career line of .303/.382/.515 (134 OPS+).

Next: Predicting the Yankees' Moves at the Winter Meetings

The truth is, I would be 100% fine with either of these guys signing a one-year deal to be the Yankees’ full-time DH in 2017. Both come with their share of age and injury-related risk, but more likely than not they would give the team the powerful cleanup hitter that is missing from the middle of the lineup without blocking anyone long-term.