Sources: Holliday sets price point for contract talks

Free agent outfielder Matt Holliday is intent on signing a contract
that exceeds the $18 million average salary of a four-year offer he
rejected from the Rockies during the 2008 season, according to
major-league sources.

While there were earlier reports that St. Louis has declined
to go beyond five years in its guarantee to Holliday, major-league
sources indicated on Tuesday that the Cardinals had made a proposal
that could reach $140 million over eight years. That is an annual
average of $17.5 million, just shy of Holliday’s target.

Holliday has indicated an interest if the term is reduced to
seven years, the sources said. On a seven-year deal, he would want
the total value to exceed the $119 million that Carlos Beltran
received after the 2004 season in his seven-year, free-agent
contract with the Mets.

An average salary of $17.5 million over seven years would put
Holliday at $122.5 million. An average salary of $18 million would
put him at $126 million.

Baltimore, meanwhile, did make an eight-year, $130 million
offer to Holliday, and general manager Andy MacPhail did discuss
the possibility of arranging a meeting between himself, Orioles
owner Peter Angelos and Holliday in Austin, Tex., where Holliday is
living in the offseason.

Boras was not available for comment and has declined requests
to discuss negotiations.

In addition to using the Rockies’ offer as a baseline
in his negotiations, Holliday now also has the four-year, $66
million deal that Jason Bay signed with the Mets to use in his
contract talks. Bay was considered the second-best offensive
player, behind Holliday, available on the free agent market. In
addition to the $16.5 million average in his guarantee, Bay’s
deal will include an easily attainable vesting option for a fifth
year worth more than $14 million, sources say.