Olney On Holliday, Valverde, Cust, Branyan

ESPN.com's Buster Olney argues that baseball writers shouldn't decide who makes it into the Hall of Fame. After explaining why he'd prefer to see the Hall of Fame appoint its own panel, Olney turns up some rumors from around the league. Here they are:

  • One MLB official says the Matt Holliday deal may end up as "one of the worst deals in major league history" because the Cardinals were apparently bidding against themselves.
  • Olney hears from negotiators who believe the Cards should have lowered their offer considerably once the Mets signed Jason Bay.
  • Jose Valverde is asking for $8MM per season and wants to be a closer. As Olney points out, the Pirates and Marlins are not likely to match Valverde's asking price unless he lowers it. The Tigers have been cost-conscious this offseason, but they could use an accomplished reliever.
  • Olney says it's clear that Billy Beane and the A's value Jack Cust "in a way that many other teams do not."
  • Executives around the league are concerned about Russell Branyan's back. The 34-year-old slugged 31 homers last year, though he didn't play after August.

39 Responses to Olney On Holliday, Valverde, Cust, Branyan Leave a Reply

  1. worse than vernon wells, gary matthews jr., carl pavano and barry zito? i dont think so.

    i dont think they needed to go 7 years to sign holliday. 6 should have been enough. at 5 years someone else may have joined the bidding or more likely boras/holliday would ask for an opt out clause. 17 mil per year with 2 deferred is not outrageous. they guaranteed 1 more year than needed to. that isnt smart but its hardly one of the worst in history.

    • Holliday KILLS NL pitching also… I don’t even see this being a remotely bad contract. I agree, they probably could have held out and gotten away with 6, but then you are screwed if they didn’t sign him and had to start looking at LF in February… They’d be stuck with the top of the class being Johnny Damon.

      They might as well wave goodbye to the thought of a Pujols extention if they lost out on Holliday. Smart move. Good Contract. Dumb Bussa Buss….. lol. Olney may be the dumbest analyst out there. I’d put most Yahoo analysts ahead of him. I can’t wait for ESPN to tell him to get lost…

  2. OlyOle 6 years ago

    Someone really smart (not me) should do an analysis of long term deals and when they start to look ugly. My bet is there’s a threshold – a tipping point, if you will – where most deals go bad. I’d guess it’s right around the middle of the third year where you start to get diminishing returns on the investment. It’d be interesting to get a sense of how many deals have worked out (although I don’t know how you quantify ‘worked out’) that are 5+ years guaranteed. Maybe I’m just channeling Pat Gillick, I don’t know…

    • I don’t think there are many short of the last Pujols deal, and the Red Sox deal for Manny Ramirez that have not looked horrible at the end of them. I’d like to see that study too. Maybe I will work on it on my flight home. I can compile a report of all contracts more than 5 years with ease before I leave. I’ll update ya with my findings. Maybe i’ll email Tim an Excel spreadsheet or something.

      Just statistical work. Keeping opinions aside, Wells has to be the worst long term deal in the history… unless he suddenly turns it around. Maybe Barry Zito? But I think Wells is worse.

      • OlyOle 6 years ago

        Yeah, the Wells deal takes the cake. But there has to be a point where deals go bad – even when players perform at the outset – and I’m sure it has some correlation to age. Even Richie Sexson had two good years before his contract looked awful. If you do look into it, maybe bump it down to 4 year deals and see what turns up.

        • 4+ years is a lot of contracts to look at. 5 or more I strongly believe would be the turning point in a good deal or bad deal. 4 years, a team can still recover from fairly quickly as you’ve seen with the Sox and Lugo.

  3. jrav 6 years ago

    I dont see how people keep comin up with “the Cardinals overpaid for Holliday, the were bidding against themeselves” lol regardless if we were the only bidders, Bay signed for 16.5 million, does anyone actually think that Holliday, a better hitter, would sign for LESS than Bay? lol no. We only paid .5 million more for him than we did Bay, and Considering Boras wanted Tex type money, and Holliday originally turned down an 18+ million dollar offer from the Rockies i believe, we got a bargain as far as money goes. The only issue is years really. If this was just a 5 year deal I don’t think anyone would be wiggin out about it. So basically we’re b*tching over a 2 year difference. And only time will tell how good the deal was…

    • boraswannabe 6 years ago

      Except that Bay is locked up for 4 years vs. 7. BIG difference. AND in addition, Cardinals had the advantage once Bay signed. There was literally no one who was signing him for anywhere near what the Cards were offering.

      • jrav 6 years ago

        Well there was spculation that Boras would take a 1-year deal for Holliday in order to turn around and try to flip him in a better market next year, that was kind of the fear

        • boraswannabe 6 years ago

          Yeah I read that yesterday too although I mean come on. You really believe he would risk losing the millions he was going to get for a 1 year contract where he could possibly injure himself OR have a bad year (athletics style)?

          • boras has advised clients to take one year deals or accept arbitration when it doesnt look like the desired long term contract will materialize. that was certainly a possibility with holliday, although his preference would be for an opt out clause. for that reason the cards needed to make an honest offer. 7/120 was a generous offer. 6/102 would have been an honest offer.

          • boraswannabe 6 years ago

            I hear what you are saying. But what honestly would be the advantage of this strategy? He possibly gets injured (can happen). Then next year you’d have doubters saying he might not be able to perform up to the standard that we are used to. OR he has a bad/sub par year. Then there’s the “thank god we didn’t sign him for that long contract.” Granted, I know both are big “IF’S”. But it’s a possibility. I guess he’d have the possibility of still capitalizing on a big contract for a long period of time, but I just think that’s a HUGE gamble.

          • the advantage is obvious…you test free agency again when the economy is in better shape. its not without risk, of course. however, its a risk i would take if i was holliday and every team made a lowball offer. there was basically a perfect storm against him this year….the economy scared people and none of the big market teams seemed particularly interested in him. its entirely possible holliday would beat the lowball offers simply by waiting a year, even if he performed slightly worse. the bottom line is that a short term deal, while not the ideal option, was a valid threat. that said, the cards should have taken better advantage of the situation.

          • boraswannabe 6 years ago

            I understand your point. I agree that the Cards should’ve negotiated a better contract.

            I think there are too many other factors involved including injury and a poor season. In addition, Carl Crawford and other free agents available next year. This year it was just him and Bay. I don’t include Damon in that category for obvious reasons.

            What do I know though? I’m a boraswannabe.

          • theredoctober 6 years ago

            you mean like manny ramirez (2-year, short-term deal) and adrian beltre did?

          • boraswannabe 6 years ago

            How well will that work out for Manny?

        • Muggi 6 years ago

          That was a ploy by Boras IMO, not something that would have ever happened.

          Where would Holliday be if he did that? Even if he had a GOOD season, next offseason there’s Crawford and Werth there for teams to bid on; both are comparable or just a smidge below him offensively and better in the field.

          They overpaid by two years. It’s far from the worst deal ever, but it’s not a great one either.

      • Bay will easily vest his option barring some serious injury… Its a 5 year deal and the Yankees most certainly would be involved had it not been a 7 year offer from the Cards.

        NO way Cashman would not have tossed an offer that way. Who knows? Maybe the Sox would move Ellsbury for a bat and signed Holliday to a 6 year deal also? They were bidding against themselves only due to the length they were willing to offer. 1 less year and more teams would be involved.

    • I agree with you bud. And as I’ve said, had the cards lowered their offer, you would see Cashman going back to the Steinbrenners for a 6 year 100 mil deal (or there abouts) and Holliday would be in a Yankees uniform just to spite not getting the value he desired from the Cards. I think the Cards made the right move. If anything the interest in Holliday would increase with the signing of Bay, not decrease. Now Damon is the biggest left field name on the market, though he throws like my sister.

    • And the “genious” olney would be calling it a great move on part of the Yankees.

  4. morgannyy 6 years ago

    7 years is way too long for a guy with his stats! Were they really overwhelming? Very average stats for that kind of money and especially for that length and terms.

    As for him “signing for less than Bay’, what choice would he have had if no one else was bidding. That’s the jist of it.

    • wihargo 6 years ago

      There may have been no one else bidding a 6 or 7 year deal for Holliday, but don’t think for a second that no one else was even interested in him. Holliday is a very good defender, much better than Bay, and in this day and age defense gets you paid. The batting line is not as compelling as, say, Manny Ramirez, but Holliday has a very good all-around game.
      There are probably a lot of teams that would be happy to sign Holliday to a 1 year, 22 million dollar deal. I think that some teams would go out and get financing to make a deal like that happen if they didn’t have the budget for it.
      The point is that he had other options, and if the Cardinals wanted him they were going to have to give him a long term deal.
      I don’t think that anyone got fooled. My understanding is that Holliday is a great hitter with lots of althleticism and quickness. Also, I’ve been reading on sites like fangraphs etc that players like that age much more gracefully then other sorts of hitters.

  5. jake82 6 years ago

    The Cardinals payed market value for Holliday. How can that possibly be one of the “worst deals in history”? Sure, they weren’t bidding against anyone, but they didn’t end up paying him $20/year had they had someone to bid against. He’s getting $17m/year because the Met’s bid against themselves and gave Bay $16.5m/year. If you’re gonna call the Holliday deal one of the worst, then the Bay deal is THE worst.

  6. Jiujitsu411420 6 years ago

    I’m a cubs fan and hate to admit it but right now soriano’s contract is looking worse than that. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that he gains some of that magic back that he produced with Washington during his 40/40 season. I know he will probably never swipe 40 bags again but 40 hr’s now batting in the 6 hole will provide a lot of rbi’s.

    • Suzysman 6 years ago

      Yep, Soriano is a much worse contract then Holliday


      A) last five wOBA’s
      .375 wOBA
      .409 wOBA
      .428 wOBA
      .418 wOBA
      .390 wOBA

      B) last 5 wOBA’s
      .356 wOBA
      .377 wOBA
      .380 wOBA
      .374 wOBA
      .314 wOBA


      1) Going on 34 and makes 18 MM each season for the next 5 with his body that we are literally watching fall apart.

      2) Will be a 30 year old making 15 MM the next seven seasons after deferments. He will also receive 14 MM from 2020-2029, but after inflation that total is only worth about 8-9 MM in today’s dollars.

      If I were to ask people to pick a letter and number, I would expect people to almost unilaterally choose A/2. B/1 represents Soriano :(

  7. pathardin 6 years ago

    The bay deal is basically a 5 year deal. He only needs to play 560 games in the four seasons for it to vest so it’s almost guaranteed that it does. So basically with the deferred money they’re both getting the same average salary. And yes, the cards likely went 1-2 years more than they needed to but it’s not an awful deal. Bay is 16 months older than holliday so the mets are paying for his age 32-36 seasons whereas the cardinals are paying for holliday’s age 30-36 seasons. Holliday’s far and away a superior player so I guarantee the cardinals get more value from this deal then the mets do with Bay. And Bay’s shown the ability to tank it for an entire season (see 2007 and his 746 ops). Holliday has been consistently above average every season and is a plus baserunner and fielder. If the cardinals had drawn a hard line at 5 years I would not have been shocked if holliday took a 2-3 year deal with baltimore or another eastern team for 50-55mill. I think the threat of him signing a shorter deal at a higher average salary was very real and that’s why the cardinals stretched it out. And as a cardinals fan who’s witnessed alot of dead payroll in the last few years (Troy Glaus, Mulder, Kennedy, Encarnacion, Isringhausen, Rolen, Khalil Greene) I’m ok with having holliday those last 2 years where he may no longer be an all star, but will likely still be making a positive contribution. The money he gets would likely be spent much less efficiently with greater risk and lower returns. And getting him signed is probably a key in getting pujols locked up. And if pujols walks the fan backlash will be immense. Ticket revenues would fall through the floor. So from a business perspective the cardinals really needed holliday just as much as he needed them. Holliday may not have had any other options, but neither did the cardinals

  8. Olney hasn’t liked any big deal that involves any team other than the Yankees, Mets, Redsox, Cubs, and Angels. He is a true baseball anal-cyst.

  9. kmcole2905 6 years ago

    How is paying a very good player market value a bad deal? It may be a little too long, but most post-team-control contracts are. If Boras was behind the proverbial 8 ball with regard to other teams’ bidding, so too were the Cardinals with regard to suitably stocking their lineup through free agency. I think Holliday’s best days are in front of him-he’s a terrific athlete and will be hitting behind Albert for the next few half decade.

  10. ptitolo 6 years ago

    Boras knew the Cards were in fact bidding against their strongest adversary – the prospect of losing Pujols because they couldn’t show they were willing to spend to build and maintain a championship caliber team. If they don’t get a happy Holliday – or worse yet, force him to take a undesirable deal and he becomes unhappy in 2-3 yrs, the Cards will lose Pujols – and their franchise. They did the right thing, and Boras knew he still had leverage. Genius.

    • glenstein 6 years ago

      It’s faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar from automatic that they would lose Pujols by not signing Holliday.

  11. alxn 6 years ago

    What does the Holliday deal have to do with the Bay deal? There is really no reason to overpay for someone, no matter how valuable he is, if there is nobody bidding against you. The Cardinals didn’t have to have Holliday, but they acted like their franchise would collapse without him.

  12. tigers22 6 years ago

    Valverde can get lost for that money. I don’t see the Tigers giving him that, when they could have just had Rodney for cheaper. Especially with the rest of the young arms we have, just not reason to overpay for this guy.

  13. Regardless of their payroll, had the Cards dropped their offer to something like 5/85 or something along those lines, the Yankees would have swooped in with 6/100 or something like that, and it would be called the deal of the century. Cards made the right move. Buster Olney is just talking out of his @nus… as per usual.

  14. Boras is sneaky like that… and the Cards knew it.

  15. sprayahen 6 years ago

    Obviously I’m not saying anything revolutionary here, but it’s silly to say a deal could be one of the worst in history if the player involved is a good bet to bring back appropriate value for most of it. What an ignorant comment. Yes, the deal’s too long, but this isn’t exactly a Wells/Zito situation.

  16. Guest 6 years ago

    I have to agree with you and the names you listed. There have been far FAR worse deals in every aspect and those players weren’t on the same list as Holliday and terms of potential, age and well, just about everything.

    Vernon Wells contract is pretty far up there in terms of the worst, however the Barry Zito contract is always and forever going to be the worst signed deal in sports.

  17. crashcameron 6 years ago

    $oriano is wor$e than Well$
    despite what stats-geeks will pull out, Vee-Dub can still play some defence.
    The only D that Alfonso should be anywhere near is DH.

    I still see the Holliday signing as a huge risk for Cards.
    One: he’s worked hard to make himself a competent fielder. that’s to his credit, but that means he’s not exactly a natural. will a solid-bodied dude like that be able to move so well four years from now?
    Two: this is supposed to be some kind of guarantee/warranty that keeps Pujols around but you can;t ignore those that say the Cards may have too little payroll left to sign anyone else to play around them.

  18. jeffreyeah 6 years ago

    So let me get this straight, a deal that keeps a star caliber player for $17 million a season that could have asked for Mark Teixeira’s $22+ million a year contract and probably have gotten it had anyone else been bidding is a bad deal? A contract that keeps a guy described as a hard worker, a gym rat, a man who loves baseball with the same passion that the city of St. Louis has and shouldn’t have any trouble hitting the ball in his mid 30s.

    St. Louis got a steal of a deal and had they not offered a long term deal, Boras would have turned to other teams looking for a one year deal so Holliday could get his $20 million a year contract in 2011 when the Red Sox no longer have Ortiz or Lowell and JD Drew’s contract has only a year left on it, and the Yankees would be renegotiating contracts with the aging Pettite, Jeter and Rivera for less money.

    The talk of how awful this contract is is just stupid. The Cardinals got their guy and he’ll be in St. Louis protecting Albert Pujols for years. The guy kills NL pitching.

  19. Suzysman 6 years ago

    the buyout is on the option – if the option vests prior to that the 2014 salary becomes guaranteed and the buyout goes away.

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