Matt Holliday Rumors

Stark On Holliday, Lee, Phillies, Rockies, Cubs

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says the Baseball Writers' Association of America needs to establish an award for relief pitchers. He also provides plenty of rumblings from around the league; here they are:

  • Stark hears that the only offers Matt Holliday had in-hand when the Cardinals signed him were one-year deals worth $18MM or so.
  • The Phillies offered Cliff Lee a three-year extension worth $60MM or so before trading for Roy Halladay. It's unclear whether Lee and agent Darek Braunecker formally turned the offer down, but others believe Lee will seek a longer-term deal once he hits the open market after this season.
  • The Phillies are "plenty interested" in Pedro Martinez on a half-season deal similar to the one he signed last year, but one NL club hears that Pedro is looking for a full-season job at "market" dollars.
  • The Phillies have backed off on John Smoltz, who wants to start, but they are interested in Jose Contreras.
  • The Rockies talked actively to the Marlins about Dan Uggla. Now, the Rockies are more intent on free agent options including Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera and Orlando Hudson.
  • They'd also like to bring Jason Giambi back.
  • Scouts who have seen Carlos Delgado play first base in Puerto Rico say the slugger should look for a DH job, since his fielding is suspect.
  • Stark has the impression that the Cubs have set aside their interest in Ben Sheets as they pursue a bench bat and a setup man.

How Did Type A Free Agents Do This Winter?

You'd think it would be a good thing to be identified as a premium player at your position, but Type A status is more of a curse than a blessing for some free agents. Teams have to give up a top pick to sign Type A free agents who turn down arbitration, and that scares some clubs away. GMs covet high draft picks since they can become cheap, young contributors within a couple years, so there's a league-wide reluctance to hand over top picks for Type A free agents who aren't elite players.

That's not an issue for Mark Teixeira types – teams will want to sign Hall of Fame caliber talent no matter what – but the Elias system doesn't rank players the way front offices do, so the market for some players is limited by their Type A status. Ask Juan Cruz and Orlando Hudson about the effect the Elias Rankings can have on a player's contract.
This year, however, those who declined arbitration don't have reason to regret their decisions. All the Type A free agents below had multiple suitors and all but Billy Wagner signed multi-year deals. This doesn't mean teams are willing to hand over top picks. Instead it's likely an indication that agents are only letting Type As decline arbitration offers if the players are sure to attract lots of interest on the market. 

But players aren't necessarily handcuffed by the Elias rankings. Some, like Justin Duchscherer and Orlando Cabrera, have negotiated clauses into their contracts that forbid their teams from offering arbitration if they're designated Type A free agents.

Here's a complete look at the deals signed by the group of Type A free agents who turned down their teams' offers of arbitration this winter.

Odds & Ends: Red Sox, Holliday, Yankees

Some Saturday links…

  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein expanded a bit on his "bridge year" comment from the Winter Meetings, writes Dan Duggan of The Boston Herald.
  • FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Players' Union calculates the present day value of Matt Holliday's deal at $113.6MM, or $16.2MM per year. The Cardinals, however, see the present day value as lower because they use a different discount rate. ESPN's Buster Olney has a breakdown of the award based incentives.
  • Chad Jennings of The Journal News has some more utility player candidates for the Yankees.
  • Tommy Rancel at DRaysBay wonders if Franklin Gutierrez's contract extension could be used as a blueprint for a potential B.J. Upton extension.


Cardinals Have $6-7MM Left To Spend

Now that Matt Holliday's mega-contract is all but official, the Cardinals have approximately $6-7MM left in their budget according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. The team must now figure out how to allocate those funds, because they still have to address third base and the back of the rotation, plus the bullpen and bench.

"It's a great question and one that I don't know the answer to today," (GM John) Mozeliak said on Thursday when asked what comes next. "[Assistant GM John] Abbamondi, myself, Jeff [Luhnow, scouting director and farm director] and the group will sit down tomorrow. I'll then also get with Tony [La Russa, manager] over the weekend and we'll kind of prioritize what we think, if we had a bullet to use, what would we use it on. Once we get to that point, then we'll look at what's out there and how to use that resource if it's there. We may stand pat. But we'll see." 

As Leach points out, the Cardinals do have in-house options at third (David Freese) and the fifth starter's spot (Jaime Garcia, Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth), though the bench – particularly a lefty hitter – is an area the team will have to go outside of the organization to upgrade. 

We've seen names like Miguel Tejada, Joe Crede, and Felipe Lopez mentioned as possible fits for the Cardinals in recent weeks.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Bay, Holliday, Front Offices

On this date nine years ago, the A's, Royals, and Devil Rays pulled off a three-team trade that included seven big leaguers. Oakland acquired Johnny Damon, Mark Ellis, and the late Cory Lidle while Kansas City received Angel Berroa, A.J. Hinch, and Roberto Hernandez. Tampa Bay picked up just Ben Grieve. Even though Berroa went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award in 2003, Billy Beane's club walked away as the clear winner of this blockbuster.

Let's take a look at what's being written around the baseball blogosphere as Spring Training inches closer…

  • Fenway Nation thinks the Red Sox made a mistake by not re-signing Jason Bay, and wants to see the club atone for it by trading for Adrian Gonzalez.
  • Simon On Sports interviewed a blogger from each team about their squad's offseason.
  • At Home Plate says the Cardinals overpaid for Matt Holliday not because he isn't worth the money, but because no one else was bidding for his services.
  • Athletics Nation graded the front offices of the last decade.
  • U.S.S. Mariner calls Franklin Gutierrez's contract extension a major bargain, and notes it's similarities to the deal Mike Cameron signed with Seattle a decade ago.
  • DRays Bay wonders if the Rays could use Alfredo Amezaga.
  • Phillies Nation takes a look at some of the cheaper free agent pitching options that could entice the two-time defending NL Champs.
  • Twins Overlook examines the progression of Delmon Young since arriving in Minnesota.
  • River Ave. Blues ranked the $100MM contracts given to position players.
  • More Hardball has some New Year's resolutions for various people and teams in the game.

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


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.

Matt Holliday Signs With Cardinals

Matt Holliday has officially signed what will surely be the biggest contract of the 2009-10 offseason. It's a seven-year, $120MM deal with a full no-trade clause. Holliday's vesting option for 2017 would be worth $17MM if he finishes in the top-10 in MVP voting in 2016; if the option doesn't vest, the Cards will owe Holliday a $1MM buyout. 

ESPN's Buster Olney wrote Monday that the two sides were close to a possible seven-year deal and SI.com's Jon Heyman first reported that the Cardinals and Holliday had agreed to a deal. Heyman (via Twitter) and Matthew Leach of MLB.com delivered the specifics later. 

Holliday, who will keep getting paid under this contract until he's 49, will be 36 in the last guaranteed year of the deal. By comparison, Jason Bay will be 34 in the last year of his deal, one that guarantees him $54MM less than the one Holliday signed.

Holliday falls short of the $18MM average salary he reportedly sought, but this contract is a huge win for Boras given the lack of competition. Click here to check out others' reactions to the deal.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Rosenthal On Bell, Tejada, Holliday, Ankiel

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • Three or four teams are interested in Padres closer Heath Bell, but the team isn't really looking to move him.  Rosenthal sees Bell getting just $3-4MM in his second arbitration year; that seems light to me.
  • Rosenthal reminds us that the Rockies are eyeing Robb Quinlan and Fernando Tatis as bench candidates.  He wonders, though, if the Rockies, Cardinals, A's, and Cubs could find starting infielders at bargain prices as the offseason wears on.  Rosenthal says Miguel Tejada is looking for two years and $16MM; I can't think of a team that would come close to that.
  • The Cardinals believed Scott Boras might've taken Matt Holliday elsewhere on a one-year deal, though a rival executive believes that was unlikely.
  • The Pirates' interest in Rick Ankiel is obvious – Frank Coonelly has said as much in multiple chats with fans.  A couple of Rosenthal sources were divided on the Bucs' chances of signing Ankiel, who would play right field for them.  The only other known suitor is the Royals.

Cardinals Will Be Paying Holliday Through 2029

As part of his new seven year, $120MM contract, Matt Holliday will be collecting paychecks from the Cardinals through 2029 according to the AP (via SI.com). As you know, the contract calls for a $17MM annual salary through 2016 with an option for 2017, however $2MM is deferred without interest each season. Depending on whether or not the option is picked up/vests, Holliday will be paid either $1.4MM or $1.6MM on July 15th every year from 2020 to 2029.

Just for some perspective, Holliday will be 49-years-old on July 15th, 2029.  


Matt Holliday Signing Reactions

Yesterday Matt Holliday and the Cardinals agreed to a seven-year, $120MM deal, possibly worth $136MM over eight years if Holliday finishes in the top ten in the MVP voting in 2016 (he'll head into that season as a 36-year-old).  $2MM deferred per year knocks down the present-day value of the deal a bit.  Let's take a look at reactions from around the web.

  • ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to one GM who thinks the Cardinals overpaid by about $30MM given the lack of competition for Holliday.  Another exec's crack: "I guess that will end the collusion talk."  Olney also wonders if the Cardinals can afford to pay Holliday and Albert Pujols $43-47MM from 2012 forward.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the same concerns.
  • ESPN's Keith Law suggests the Cardinals are the NL Central frontrunners for 2010 and 2011.  But the downside to having both Holliday and Pujols locked up for big bucks is that the Cards would need to fill out the rest of the roster with bargains.  They might not have the farm system to do so.
  • Aaron Schafer of Viva El Birdos offers his take: "the money's fine, but the length of the deal is a killer."