The New York Yankees have signed former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday to fill their vacant designated hitter role for 2017.
The New York Yankees wasted no time getting to work at the annual Winter Meetings, signing seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday to a one-year deal worth $13 million Sunday evening. Sweeny Murty of WFAN was the first to report that the deal was imminent, while Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball scooped the details of the contract.
While there are sure to be groans from some Yankees fans about the team adding a 37-year-old slugger with recent injury issues in the midst of a rebuild, Holliday represents a serious buy-low opportunity for New York coming off of a down year.
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The 13-season MLB veteran has been a quietly productive power hitter even entering the twight of his career, hitting 20 home runs or more in six of his last seven seasons. The .246/.322/.461 (107 OPS+) slash line he posted last year is significantly below his career .303/.382/.515 (134 OPS+) mark, but with the opportunity to play DH everyday, it’s reasonable to expect his production could rebound somewhat.
Holliday has dealt with two major injuries in the last two seasons that could have been a factor in the decline of his numbers, a broken thumb in 2016 and a quad issue the year before. If New York can keep him healthy, he still has the ability to be the quality veteran middle-of-the-bat the team was missing for much of last year.
On a one-year commitment, Holliday is not blocking any of the Baby Bombers long-term, which is why this move is preferable to giving a three or four-year deal to top free agent bat Edwin Encarnacion.
The Yankees have done a great job avoiding onerous financial commitments since the 2014 offseason and this seems like another smart investment by general manager Brian Cashman, with very little downside if it doesn’t work out.
For what it’s worth, the Steamer projection system expects a solid bounce back campaign by Holliday, predicting a .275/.358/.466 (121 wRC+) batting line with 20 home runs and 67 RBI in 528 plate appearances. While I could definitely see him exceeding those numbers, I would be happy with that performance from Holliday in 2017.
Now that the Yankees have gotten one item checked off their shopping list, they can turn their attention towards upgrading their pitching staff. Aroldis Chapman and Rich Hill remain intriguing options on the free agent market.