Signing Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million dollar contract, the New York Yankees have satisfied the need for a designated hitter in 2017. Have they satisfied fans? That all depends on whom you’re asking.
The Holliday signing brings positives and negatives. Plus the deal also has short-term and long-term ramifications for the club. Is Holliday an upgrade from what the Yankees had in that spot to start 2016? Yes. Does it guarantee them a playoff spot in 2017? Probably not.
Again there are pluses and minuses with the seven-time All-Star, former batting champ, and 2007 NLCS MVP.
In 2016, Holliday’s 95.3 average exit velocity was only exceeded by Aaron Judge, Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton. Great company to be in. In 20 fewer games, Holliday hit 20 home runs, batted .246, had a .461 slugging percentage and a .782 OPS. All of those numbers are as good or better than what Brian McCann gave the Yankees. Granted McCann is four years younger, a left-handed stick and can still catch but he didn’t want to be a backup backstop or a DH in the Bronx.
Plus, unlike McCann, who stubbornly hits worm burners into the shift, Holliday prefers to hit to all fields.
Comparing to Carlos
Although the Yankees knew what they had in a reunion with Carlos Beltran, there are some obvious upsides with Holliday. Right off the bat, Holliday is three years younger and the Yankees save $3 million dollars. Despite a 2016 All-Star season, the Yankees have recent data to know what can happen when a player reaches 40 with Alex Rodriguez or what can happen in year two of a reunion with an older player in the case of Alfonso Soriano in 2014.
Both Holliday and Beltran boast postseason experience. In addition to the aforementioned NLCS MVP, Holliday won the 2011 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both are limited and one dimensional at this point and one wouldn’t necessarily trust either player in the field.
At this point, I’m also certain Beltran wants another shot at a ring and wanted a no-trade clause, which he received from the Houston Astros. If his production dropped off in New York, he likely would’ve received the same treatment which A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and McCann received or if he had hit well with the team teetering on contention, he may have been flipped again at the trade deadline.
Short Term and Long Term
Either the Yankees catch lightning in a bottle with Holliday or they have the second coming of a Vernon Wells meets Kevin Youkilis signing. If healthy, Holliday can provide the team with some right-handed pop and he’s a veteran player with a championship pedigree, which may help rub off on the younger players.
Although Holliday is essentially one dimensional at this juncture, he’s not necessarily blocking at bats from younger players whom you’d want to be in the field, to begin with. Holliday’s signing doesn’t cost the Yankees a first round draft choice either.
Long term, Holliday helps the Yankees free up cash in the future for the likes of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Signing Edwin Encarnacion probably makes you an immediate playoff team but the drawbacks are the loss of a draft pick, also obtaining a one-dimensional player and the years, age and dollars at the end of that contract.
Bottom line, while Holliday’s age and one-dimensional status go counter to what the Yankees are attempting to accomplish, if he performs that one dimension well, it could turn out to be a solid signing.