Yesterday, the Yankee stockholders opened their combination lock purses and signed 13-year veteran OF Matt Holliday to a one-and-off deal for $13 million. Thirteen years, thirteen million, replacing number thirteen... you want omens? Chew on that.
Holliday is a fading RH slugger who, like most Yankee players, peaked around 2007. Over the last two years, his numbers have noticeably, almost cruelly withered - mainly due to injuries. Still, it's not forcing us to relive 2016 (Beltran) or threaten 2020-21 (Encarnacion). As Donald Rumsfeld would say, at least we know what we don't know. But here are a few known knowns and unknowns.
1. Much of yesterday's signing will eventually be framed by who gets Encarnacion and for how long. If he signs with Boston, kiss the next two years goodbye. If he stays in the AL, whatever team gets him becomes - at the least - a major contender for the wild card. Still, I never thought we were in play on Encarnacion. We just went to the auction, sat in the back row and pretended to be lifting our card now and then. It's an improvement over last winter, when Hal hid under the bed, terrified that the free agents would come to visit.
2. We don't lose a first-round pick. This is significant. To me, it means we do not plan to sign any free agents who are lashed to qualifying offers. (Kelly Jansen and Justin Turner would have been potential targets.) I'm relieved. In this age, no middling team can afford to surrender its top pick, period. (Rich Hill and Aroldis Chapman are still out there, and neither will cost us.) Can you imagine playing a gazillion years and finally hitting the free agent market, and then having your worth devalued exponentially, because your old employer sticks you with a going-away, one-year offer? That truly sucketh.
|Holliday's recent stats: age, games, HR, RBI, BA, OBP|
4. He probably bats behind Gary Sanchez in the lineup, which now looks like this. (I'm still assuming Brett Gardner is traded:)
Way I see it, either Tyler Austin or Rob Refsnyder are loose change. Also, the above team comes in third. (Everything hinges on the two Aarons.)
5. Over his career, Holliday has never been a platoon slugger. He hits against everybody. He plays every day. With RISP, he's hit .305 over 13 years. We can use that. And here's a glimpse into Joe Girardi's binder: He is an absolute crusher when ahead in the count.
3-0: .227 (Uh-oh. Forget the green light, Joe.)
When a pitcher is ahead in the count, he's a mere .258 - nearly 50 points below his career average. And one last thing: Holliday always crushed us, hitting .356. Everything considered, at least we took him off the street. Now... what comes next?