The Cardinals made a commitment yesterday to their fans, and to Albert Pujols that they want to win and be a consistent contender with their resigning of LF Matt Holliday. They gave Holliday the biggest free agent deal of this offseason (7 years $120 million, with an option year for an 8th year). In addition to the size and money in the contract, the deal includes a full no trade clause, which could be trouble for the Cardinals at the end of this deal. By signing Holliday long term they secured one of the games top 20 power hitters for the middle of their lineup. And someone that can legitimately protect the best power hitter in the game, Pujols. This move goes a long way to giving the Cardinals a playoff caliber lineup for years to come.
For Holliday and his agent Scott Boras, this was a big win for them. They got more years and money than not only this free agent class, but most of the free agents of the past few years (except for those signed by the Yankees). The Cardinals are a good fit for Holliday as well. They have been a consistent contender this past decade, including going to two World Series. While Colorado made a nice run a couple of years ago with Holliday (and last year with out him) they have more or less not been a contender during Holliday’s time there. I also think staying in the National league, in a relatively hitter friendly park, with Pujols with him in the line-up is the perfect fit for Holliday.
While Holliday is a great addition for the Cardinals is the short term and makes them a top contender was this the right move for St. Louis? I’d say yes and no. Holliday was the perfect bat to add to the lineup, but they did so at an incredible cost. I have no problem with the $17 million per year, but the 7 years seems a bit too long, especially for the National League. Right now Holliday is considered an above-average defender, but the last couple of years of this contract that might not be the case. As a left fielder now, there is no other place to ‘hide’ his declining defense but first base, and that’s not going to happen if they resign Albert Pujols (which is a no-brainer). The other issue is with the money, and will they have enough to extend Pujols, and give new contracts to their two ace pitchers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. While the Cardinals have been a top contender, they’ve never spent like the New York, Chicago, LA teams (or Boston as well). They will have to raise their payroll significantly, and over the long term if they want to keep all these players and field a winning team. Until that time though St. Louis fans should be happy and get ready for a deep playoff run next season.