Matt Holliday Rumors


Largest Contracts By Position

We've already looked at the largest contracts by service time, so now let's break it down by position...

Catcher
Joe Mauer: Eight years, $184MM

First Base
Mark Teixeira: Eight years, $180MM

Second Base
Chase Utley: Seven years, $85MM

Shortstop
Alex Rodriguez: Ten years, $252MM

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez: Ten years, $275MM

Outfield
Alfonso Soriano: Eight years, $136MM
Vernon Wells: Seven years, $126MM
Matt Holliday: Seven years, $120MM

Starting Pitcher
CC Sabathia: Seven years, $161MM
Johan Santana: Six years, $137.5MM
Barry Zito: Seven years, $126MM
Mike Hampton: Eight years, $121MM
Kevin Brown: Seven years, $105MM

Relief Pitcher
Joe Nathan: Four years, $47MM
Mariano Rivera: Three years, $45MM

Some thoughts...

  • If you want to count DH as a position, which I guess it technically is, then Travis Hafner's four year, $57MM deal would top the list.
  • Joe Mauer's contract is more than three and a half times larger than Jorge Posada's four year, $52.4MM deal, the second largest among active catchers. Mike Piazza's seven year, $91MM deal is the second largest for a catcher all-time.
  • A-Rod only spent three years of his $252MM at the shortstop position before sliding over to third. The next largest contract ever given to a shortstop belongs to his teammate, Derek Jeter, who signed a ten year, $189MM deal in 2001.
  • The Twins are the only team besides the Yankees to employ two of the largest contracts at their respective positions.
  • The Soriano, Wells, Zito, and Hampton deals are all ones ownership wish they could take back. Brown spent a lot of time on the disabled list, but he did post a 3.23 ERA in close to 1,100 innings during the life of his deal.
  • The Utley and Rivera deals are ones the teams would happily do again, but the jury is still out on the rest.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.



Execs Name Best, Worst Moves Of The Offseason

Recently MLBTR spoke to several MLB executives to gather their nominations for the best and worst moves of the offseason.

Free agent signings that received mention for the best moves: Felipe Lopez, Adrian BeltreAdam LaRoche, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, and Aroldis Chapman.  Said one exec on Chapman: "He might truly live up to the hype."  It's hard not to praise the Cards for getting Lopez on a one-year, $1MM deal.

Three trades came up as choices for the best moves of the offseason: the Mariners' acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Royals' trade of Mark Teahen, and the Rangers' trade of Kevin Millwood.  One exec noted that the Mariners "didn't trade anyone that can hurt them in the next couple of years" for Lee, while another believed that "trading Lee and Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal will hurt [the Phillies] in the long run."  The Royals received props for "getting some value for Teahen," while the Rangers' increased payroll flexibility from the Millwood deal was noted.

Nominated for the worst moves: free agent deals for Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Brandon Lyon, Jason Kendall, Aubrey Huff, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, and Garrett Atkins.  All the execs polled mentioned Holliday's seven year, $120MM deal when choosing their worst deals of the winter.  Said one: "The fear that he would sign a one-year deal elsewhere and take his chances a year from now — that just doesn't make sense to me."

Aside from Kendall and Huff, there was a vibe of "like the player, hate the contract" with the panned free agent signings.  One exec felt the Royals downgraded behind the plate with Kendall.  Huff was nominated as a small-scale misstep, in that the exec felt that "Hank Blalock is better and he couldn't get half that salary on a non-roster deal."



Odds & Ends: Beckett, Jones, Cust, Cubs

A roundup of some news on this Thursday night...

  • In an interview on CSNNE's Sports Tonight show, Josh Beckett said he would "probably not" negotiate with the Red Sox about a new contract once the season begins.  WEEI's Rob Bradford reports on Beckett's appearance here.
  • Bobby Cox thinks Chipper Jones will play out the final three years on his contract, reports David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Jones was hinting at retirement last fall in the wake of his disappointing (for him) 2009 campaign, but thus far in spring training, O'Brien reports that Jones has been nothing but enthusiastic about Atlanta's chances this season. 
  • In an interview with Jane Lee of MLB.com, Jack Cust confirms what we all thought about this winter's crop of free agents at outfield and DH: "it just wasn't a very good market unless you're Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. Even for those guys, I don't think the interest level was as high as they may have thought it to be. Unless you're one of those big dudes, you take what you can get."
  • Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com says that the Cubs have some interest in Luke Gregerson and/or Jason Frasor.
  • Jon Paul Morosi tweets that there is "not much new" going on with the negotiations between Joe Mauer and the Twins.
  • MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports that Alex Rodriguez offered Johnny Damon some free agency advice this winter.  Oh, so THAT's why it took so long for Damon to sign...
  • We had heard about Toronto's possible interest in Jose Julio Ruiz, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian now reports that the Jays may be looking at another Cuban prospect: Adeiny Hechevarria.
  • Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports that the Royals agreed to terms with Josh Fields and Kila Ka'aihue on one-year contracts.  Terms were not disclosed, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted that neither deal is expected to exceed $500K.



Epstein Discusses Lowell, Beckett, Offense

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein did an informative interview on the Dennis & Callahan show this morning.  Click here for audio and here for the transcript.  Highlights:

  • Epstein said that by the time the offseason began, the Red Sox evaluated their chances of signing Jason Bay and Matt Holliday at less than ten percent for each.
  • Epstein has not expected a Mike Lowell trade since the Texas deal blew up.  At the time, the Red Sox GM envisioned using the $3MM savings on a hitter, but now expects Lowell to provide that insurance.
  • The team's numbers showed Jacoby Ellsbury as an above-average center fielder in 2009.  Epstein implied that he doesn't put any stock in Ellsbury's UZR.
  • Epstein considers John Lackey's five-year, $82.5MM contract a relevant comparable for Josh Beckett's next deal.  He does not see the Lackey signing as an impediment to retaining Beckett.
  • If the offense is subpar, Epstein is willing to make an in-season acquisition.  He noted that finding a bat at the trade deadline is easier than acquiring an elite pitcher.



Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Upton, Damon, White Sox

Sunday night linkage..

  • Confidential documents in the McCourts' divorce hearing reveal that the Dodgers may seek to spend on players at level pace while doubling ticket prices and revenue through 2018, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  This is bad news for Dodgers fans as the uncertain financial status of the club has limited their activity this winter.
  • The Indians are keeping mum on their feelings about Edward Salcedo's reportedly impending deal with the Braves, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.  Salcedo, according to a Dominican paper, was signed by the Tribe in 2007.  The club denied this and word that the prospect lied about his age followed.
  • Todd Wellemeyer is fighting for a spot with the Giants in Spring Training, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.  Wellemeyer had a disappointing 2009 for the Cardinals, posting a 5.89 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • Even though the D-Backs find themselves with two starting-caliber catchers in Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder, GM Josh Byrnes won't try to trade the latter, writes Gilbert.  Snyder was nearly dealt for Lyle Overbay in November before the Blue Jays got cold feet.
  • Justin Upton has had discussions with the Diamondbacks regarding a contract extension, writes Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.  The 22-year-old is under contractual control for four more years.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that some Scott Boras detractors believe he sacrificed Johnny Damon for Matt Holliday.  Some rival agents and club executives assert that the super-agent declined to negotiate with the Yankees regarding Damon early on, allowing the possibility that they could pursue Holliday.  Boras scoffed at the notion when asked about it by Rosenthal.
  • Jake Peavy would have liked to see Damon join the White Sox, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com.



Cardinals Open To Another Spring Signing

MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that St. Louis has between $6MM and $7MM worth of "wiggle room" in their payroll that may have to last the club through the rest of the season.  But, as Leach notes, "the Cardinals aren't holding onto money for a midseason trade as much as they are for an acquisition during camp." 

St. Louis GM John Mozeliak hinted that he may make another move during Spring Training if none of the team's young players step up to adequately fill the Cards' problem areas: "As we move forward and get into spring, we should have a better idea of what that [greatest need] might be. It may be nothing. But it usually is always something and more than something."

Matt Holliday dominated the headlines in St. Louis over the winter, but aside from that major re-signing, the Cardinals were fairly quiet in the offseason; only Brad Penny and possibly Rich Hill could be considered major additions to the club.  As Leach pointed out, however, the Cards have signed two free agents over the last two springs (Kyle Lohse and Dennys Reyes) and are still looking for backup outfielders, a left-handed pinch-hitting option and possibly another reliever or two.




Can Phillies Afford To Re-Sign Jayson Werth?

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told reporters today that the club may not be able to retain Jayson Werth as they already have $130MM committed to just 14 players for 2011, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  His comments came after the press conference to announce the re-signing of Shane Victorino and were unsolicited by the media in attendance.

Amaro wondered aloud if the contracts given to Jason Bay and Matt Holliday would affect Werth's asking price.  Recently, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com wrote that he isn't sure if the Phils could retain Werth for Bay-type money.  Werth had his strongest offensive showing to date in 2009, hitting .268/.373./.506 with a career high 36 homers.

While his .879 OPS in '09 doesn't quite match Bay's walk year OPS of .921, Werth's solid defensive play (6.1 UZR/150) certainly trumps Bay's notoriously weak fielding (-11.2 UZR/150).



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.









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