Signing Matt Holliday Will Be Brian Cashman’s Biggest Blunder of 2017
Signing Holliday offers no benefit for the Yankees in 2017
In December 2016, Matt Holliday agreed to come to New York on a one-year, $13 million deal to serve as depth for the Yankees. Despite the big bucks Holliday will most likely not play like he is worth the $13 million, and instead hamper the Yankees’ season.
The Yankees’ Spring Training has gotten into full swing, and youth is clearly all around. Top prospects such as Jorge Mateo and Miguel Andujar are making appearances in Tampa and illustrating that the Yankees’ future is bright. The Yankees must wait, however, as the young studs are not ready for the major leagues yet. In the meantime, Brian Cashman signed Matt Holliday to serve as the Yanks primary DH. This is a decision that remains puzzling primarily because there were better options available for better prices.
The only logical rationale behind this contract is that Brian Cashman wanted to bring in a mentor for the Baby Bombers. With Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez (finally) gone, the Yankees will turn to a successful and accomplished mentor who hopefully has a lot to share after a 13-year career and extensive experience in the postseason.
In his prime, Matt Holliday played at an extraordinary level. Holliday is a seven-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and five hits away from 2,000. This is not 2010, though. Matt Holliday is 37-years-old and has not played well since 2014. He has never been a defensive asset, and it is tough to envision Girardi wanting to put him in the field at any point.
Traditionally, 1.0 WAR is worth about $8 million. This calculation would make Holliday’s expected value for 2017 at 1.63 WAR. This is not a completely unrealistic expectation for most MLB players — but for Holliday, this is nearly impossible.
Judging from 2016, Matt Holliday was worth $4 million. Now a year older at the age of 37, can anyone expect him to return to All-Star form? It would be near foolish to think so.
Most importantly, Holliday is taking valuable at-bats from other prospects. Individuals such as Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade are knocking on the door and deserve their chance at the professional level. Aaron Hicks did not play well in 2016, but maybe he would play better if he served as the primary designated hitter. In 20 career games Mason Williams has hit .292, and if he could hit that way for a full season he would be worth way more to the Yankees than Holliday.
Fortunately, Matt Holliday’s tenure with the Yankees will likely end after the 2017 season. This will jump-start the Yankees’ youth movement, as over $50 million will come off the books between CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Tyler Clippard.
This financial flexibility will allow the Yankees to get below the luxury tax (which would have happened if they did not sign Holliday and signed someone like Napoli instead ($6 million in 2017). They need to get under the luxury tax before 2018, as the penalty is only getting more severe. The 2018 free agency class also features superstars such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper — players the Yankees will surely target.
Brian Cashman can hide behind aging veterans for now, but soon the young talent will emerge. When Cashman lets the young stars break through, they will start the next Yankees dynasty and carry New York to a level they have desired since the ‘Core Four’ ruled the Bronx.