It’s really hard to keep a good man down.
After super agent Scott Boras was only able to get Adrian Beltre a one-year deal for $9 million, you just knew he was going to come back with a vengeance in his next contract negotiation.
And come back with a vengeance, Boras did.
As first reported by SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Boras client Matt Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million contract. The seventh year is a vesting option and each year of the contract will pay Holliday $17 million.
This is a huge win for Boras’ camp.
If you really think about it, Boras got the Cardinals to pony up $120 million when there was no other team even remotely interested in Holliday. Essentially the Cardinals bid against themselves.
Boras was hell-bent on getting Holliday more on an annual basis than what Jason Bay got. As usual, Boras got what he wanted. Holliday’s annual salary is $500,000 more than what Bay will get.
I understand the money, but I don’t understand the years. Seven years is a lot to commit to Holliday, who will be 30-years-old next week. If no one else was bidding for Holliday, then why give him the two extra years?
For the Cardinals, I get why they had to sign Holliday.
At the beginning of the offseason, I had the Cardinals, along with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the three teams whose offseason was more important than any other teams.
I felt the Cardinals’ offseason was extremely important to the overall direction of the franchise because not only was Holliday a free agent, but manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan were free agents as well.
Not to mention that Albert Pujols is a free agent in two years and the Cardinals have to show a commitment to winning in order for Pujols to stick around after the 2012 season. So far, the Cardinals have done everything you could possibly ask them to do in terms of showing a commitment to winning now and in the future.
They re-signed LaRussa and Duncan (who might be the biggest key to the Cardinals’ success), they replaced Joel Pineiro with Brad Penny, which I like, and they made a serious commitment to Holliday. Holliday gives the Cardinals a legitimate bat to hit behind Pujols.
Holliday did hit .353 with 13 home runs and a Pujolsian 1.023 OPS in 63 games last year for the Red Birds, so it’s not like the Cardinals gave $120 million to Craig Paquette.
The Cardinals still have some holes to fill, like a third baseman (Miguel Tejada?), but they have filled all of their important holes this offseason.
The question that remains for the Cardinals is can they compete on a long-term basis with two players taking up a majority of their payroll?
The Cardinals aren’t a big market team, but they aren’t a small market team either. They are right in the meaty part of the curve. Their payroll usually settles in around the $95 million mark.
Pujols is a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. He will make $16 million in that final year. Pujols can realistically ask for $35 million a year if he wanted to.
If Alex Rodriguez is worth $32 million, then Pujols has every right to ask for more than ARod. But lets say that Pujols accepts a home-town discount and signs an extension for $25 million a year and the Cardinals’ payroll bumps up to $110 million in 2013.
With Holliday making $17 million and Pujols making $25 million, can the Cardinals compete with two players taking up 38 percent of the team’s payroll?
I think they can.
However, it’s going to take a major commitment to restocking their minor league system. They traded away the majority of their top prospects in the Holliday and DeRosa trades.
The Cardinals right now have a farm system that ranks towards the bottom in baseball.
The Cardinals are going to need some young talent to come through their system in order for the Cardinals to be competitive with a $110 million payroll and two guys taking up a significant portion of that payroll.
Holliday has a career .318 average with 152 home runs and a .933 OPS in six seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s and Cardinals.
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