Did the New York Yankees settle too soon with Matt Holliday? 1
Sep 30, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Matt Holliday (7) follows through on a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees may have gained a veteran bat in Matt Holliday, but did they miss out on a few better options?

The well-respected veteran in Matt Holliday has found a home with the New York Yankees. His signing this offseason was unexpected, to say the least, but the Yankees settled on him early.

However, was that really the right choice?

With so many reliable sluggers out there on the free-agent market, the Yankees settled on Holliday far too early and that might hurt them in the long run.

Holliday signed a one-year deal to stay in the Bronx and while he was ultimately one of the cheaper options for the Yankees, he probably wasn’t the best. He’s had a stellar career with the Colorado Rockies, the Oakland A’s and the St. Louis Cardinals, but his recent numbers are far less impressive.

Last season, Holliday played in 110 games and slashed a .246/.322/.461 line. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 62 runs in his final season in St. Louis. While his numbers would work for the Yankees, could they have potentially gotten better?

Sep 30, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter Matt Holliday (7) circles the basses on a solo home run as Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang (27) looks on during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no telling what the 37-year-old outfielder will do. This would be the first time he truly will be taking part in a full-time DH role. It could go swimmingly or it could be a dumpster fire. There’s just no telling right now.

At the time the Yankees signed Holliday, Edwin Encarnacion was still on the market. Jose Bautista was also an option to look into. However, the high price tag turned the Yankees away from these options.

Encarnacion and Bautista are both high-quality players who have proven that they could slug in both the American League and in the AL East division. Getting Encarnacion or Bautista, the Yankees would at least have an idea of what they would be getting.

With Holliday, it’s still up in the air.

If the Yankees hadn’t rushed in signing the veteran Holliday, they might have been able to work down Bautista or Encarnacion for a lower contract. Bautista ended up signing a one-year, $18.5 million contract to return to Toronto, far lower than his original asking price.

The main reason for signing a full-time DH was to help protect second-year player Gary Sanchez in his first full season behind the dish. What happens if Holliday doesn’t do his job? Who would be another option to protect the young Sanchez?

This was a move of necessity for the Yankees, as they saw a vacancy and needed to fill it right away. Instead, they could have waited a little longer and had a few other options to consider. Maybe they would be more expensive, but at least you would have an idea of what you might be getting.

The Holliday signing a low-cost risk. It was a safe move for the Yankees in regards to getting a seasoned veteran at a cheap price. Maybe they could get more reliable production by spending a little bit more.

Holliday could easily come out and become the new hero of the Bronx. He could protect Sanchez and win over the hearts of Yankees fans right away. We’ll all be rooting for him to return to his slugging ways and be the new DH the Yankees have been imagining. It’s all very possible.

However, looking at the options they could have had, the Yankees settled far too soon. Holliday is a good choice but the Yankees missed the chance to do even better.


  1. When it comes to signing veterans, Yankees should not sign anyone for more than a year and should not give up any draft picks in the process. That’s the point of a youth movement. Veterans on long term deals clog up development. Witness Ellsbury. He’ll clog up outfield development until 2020 or 2021, while the Yankees are glutted without outfield prospects.

    I could care less about the dollars players are paid, since its not my money being spent and the Yankees are unlikely to lower ticket prices, even if they have a team full of minimum wage players. What I care about are the YEARS to be committed, because that guarantees them roster AND playing time, while potentially better players languish in the minors.

    Again, watch Ellsbury get pencilled into the lineup for the next 3-5 years, unless he’s traded or just so broken the Yankees have no choice but to release him. Meanwhile, they continually peddle the one veteran they should keep – Gardner – because he’s a real leader in the dugout and the only homegrown Yankee with a World Series ring (and thus, the flag carrier for the Yankee legacy). Never mind that he’s not overpaid, on a shorter-term contract and would probably stay with the Yankees under any terms, including riding the bench for peanuts until he turns into a coach.

    • Really good point. The Ellsbury dilemma is one that ponders me because it does stunt the growth of the youth movement. The thing is, they were signing for a primary DH position. Unfortunately, their in-house DH options aren’t as prominent as with other teams. They have Sanchez, who would likely be DH-ing on his day off. Bird might potentially get some swings at DH when not at first. But there is no full-time DH to rely on. The DH is an important role in the American League and the Yankees need to make sure they have someone reliable there.

      And thanks for the feedback, you’ve given me a lot to think about as well!

      • Thanks Allison. the DH is important, both for its offensive value and as a place to spell fielders while keeping their bat in the lineup. But for 20 games a season, there’s no DH. That’s a lot of money sitting on the bench, waiting for a pitch hitting opportunity.

        If Encarnacion came without a draft pick. I’d buy him. Ditto Jose Bautista (though with a bit less enthusiasm). But both were bucking for longer term contracts and bigger money than the Yankees were willing to give up. Edwin Encarnacion’s contract has attendance incentives that will drive his contract value up, up, up. Not my money, but will affect baseball decisions next year, when the FA market will be better.

        I think Holliday will do ok. He’s a good team leader with lots of post-season experience. If he doesn’t have to field, I think his durability will improve and perhaps his hitting output. Either way, we don’t give up a draft pick and he’s gone if we want him after a year.

        It’s a crap shoot, I know. But at least they aren’t on the hook for more than a year. They do have a lot of good, young hitters. If 2-3 of them start producing as we’d like, they may not need a dedicated DH, but can use the position for keeping players fresh, while not losing the bat in the line up.

    • That is true too! However, the Yankees have given up first round picks before and ultimately turned out just fine. Not all first round picks have panned out, like Cito Culver. They have a pretty good line-up coming in the future and I think signing either might have been worth missing a draft pick if you know what to expect.

  2. The reason for signing Holliday was to be under the salary cap for 2018 so the tax penalty would be reset in time for the epic free agency class. There were no better players available on a one year contract.