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.