[image title="matt-holliday" size="full" id="13031" align="center" ]This time last year, the Mark Teixeira rumors were in full swing. The Orioles had offered him 140 million. The Nationals and Red Sox were reportedly offering him similar deals. The Angels were trying to get him to stay. But the Yankees swept in with a mega-offer and won the bidding at 8 years, 180 million. That’s a huge contract. Bigger than it feels. Part of the reason that Teixeira got it was because so many teams were willing to shell out the big cash for him. Had the Yankees not stepped in, there would have still been ample competition to up the price tag.
This year, we appear to be observing something different. We’re knee-deep in the winter meetings, and over a dozen teams are “interested” in Matt Holliday, but we’ve heard almost no news about teams preparing large dollar contracts for him. I haven’t heard one offer rumored, and no team appears to be actively negotiating with Holliday. This should come at no surprise: in a recession, most teams are aiming to reduce payroll, not add to it. The big buyers like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox appear to be looking for cheaper options, and large-market teams like the Cubs, Astros, Tigers, White Sox and Phillies don’t look ready to spend.
At this point, speculation has to center around Seattle, the Mets, and maybe St. Louis to be the favorites for Holliday. They all have the payroll room and the need for the slugger. However, this doesn’t seem like a group ready to spend huge dollars, does it? St. Louis has always been responsible with contracts, and the Mets already have 110+ million on their payroll committed. Seattle has a lot more flexibility, but the top-end of an acceptable payroll for them is smaller than for the other teams, and they still need to extend Felix Hernandez.
I think that the Yankees may get back in to the fray here. The knock against Matt Holliday has never been that he is a bad player, just that the Yankees don’t want to put another huge contract on the payroll long term. With fewer bidders, his price will come down. How about a 5 year, 90 million dollar, backloaded contract? Sure, its a far cry from Soriano or Wells money, but it’ll sure be the biggest contract handed out this season. And Holliday won’t be too much of a geezer when the deal is over, so he can seek another job somewhere. According to Fangraphs, Holliday has been well worth that money over the past 4 years.
And seriously, imagine this lineup:
Alex Rodriguez 3b
Matt Holliday LF
Jorge Posada C
And really, it wouldn’t be that much of a payroll increase over 2009. While the Yankees have pledged to reduce payroll in 2010, they are swimming in revenue with the new Stadium. Joe at RAB made the payroll argument really well last night,
In the end, I’m not sure the Yankees will stick with their $200 million payroll projection. They say it now, and maybe that gives them some leverage in negotiations, but if the Yankees find themselves in a position where improving the team means going over that target mark, I don’t think they’ll hold back. They’re already deep into this, too deep to cut back when they might need one more move to put them over the top.
What do you guys think? What is the maximum price you would be willing to pay for Matt Holliday?
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