Yankees sign Matt Holliday to fill designated hitter void

The Yankees found their guy to man the designated hitter role Sunday evening signing 13-year veteran Matt Holliday to a one-year deal worth $13 million. Although Holliday, who turns 37 in January, is on the downward slope of his career, this is another example of a low-risk, high-reward type deal that Brian Cashman was able to swing heading into the Winter Meetings. As a guy who changed his uniform number to seven before the 2010 season in honor of fellow Oklahoma native Mickey Mantle, the Yankees may have found the perfect match in Matt Holliday.
Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Holliday’s best years came in his time with Colorado where he hit .319/.386/.552 with 128 homers and drove in 483 runs in five seasons as he became one of the top hitters in the league. Holliday led the Rockies Cinderella run to their first World Series appearance in franchise history in 2007. Holliday was traded in the offseason before the 2009 season to Oakland where he hit .286 with 11 bombs and 54 RBIs before being traded at the deadline to St. Louis, where he has spent the last eight seasons. From 2009-2013, Holliday maintained his status as being one of the best hitters in all of baseball hitting .304 in that span with 123 home runs and 483 RBIs. Holliday has been one of the best run producers in the league over his career driving in at least 75 runs or more in 10 of his 13 career seasons.

Holliday saw a decline in his offensive production in 2014 in which his batting average fell to .272, but he still managed to hit 20 dingers and drive in 90 runs. Injuries have plagued him over the last two seasons as he has battled a quad injury in which he strained twice in 2015 and a broken thumb in 2016. Holliday is coming off a season in 2016 that saw him hit to a slash line of .246/.322/.461 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs. However, he was victimized by bad luck as his BABIP was just .253 compared to a career .333 average. He also averaged just 19.1 at bats per home run which was an improvement over his 22.3 career average, and 14.9% of his fly balls went out of the yard against an 11.4% career average. To add merit to Holliday being a good fit for Yankee Stadium, he was one of two players in the MLB last season to average an exit velocity of 95 MPH or higher, while also striking out less than 20% of the time, joining Tigers Miguel Cabrera. Despite some favorable numbers as well as infavorable ones, the Cardinals decided to not exercise his $17-million option for 2017 of his initial seven-year, $120 million contract that he inked with the team following the 2009 season.

Over his career, Holliday has hit .303/.382/.515 with a career .897 OPS (currently 63rd all time) with 1153 RBIs and 1995 hits, 295 of them being long balls, and 448 being doubles. Holliday has won one World Series ring in 2011, an NL batting championship in 2007 where he finished second in MVP voting behind Jimmy Rollins, a 2007 NLCS MVP award, seven All-Star selections, and four silver slugger awards.

Holliday will undoubtedly see the majority of his starts at DH, but he can also still play left field, and began playing first base during last season. If the deal works out in 2017, then the Yankees will have gotten exactly what they had hoped for. If Holliday’s time in pinstripes is not successful, the Yankees can cut ties with him at any time - a luxury of his deal being only one year. On the surface, this looks to be a good move by the Yankees organization as they checked off one item on my offseason check list, which I wrote last week.

Article by: Chad Raines

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