Matt Holliday is a good baseball player. He hits for very good contact, he hits for good power and he has some patience and defensive value. He’ll also likely have a regression at some point in his Cardinals career and there’s an outside chance it gets ugly.
The St. Louis Cardinals rewarded him this week, paying him $120 million for the next seven years of service–a good portion of the money will be deferred, without interest, until 2029. So over time, it’ll actually be worth less than 120 million. But that’s still a lot of money and a lot of years.
Don’t get me wrong, Holliday is a very good player. But his peak isn’t that great–take away the park and RBIs and it’s very good, but not impressive. Plus, he’s half-way through his prime and no one knows how his decline is going to go. Add in that Jason Bay–a player with a lower batting average, but similar OBP and relatively close power numbers who also benefitted from a hitter’s park for a few years–received a five-year, $80 million deal, nobody was bidding against the Cardinals for Holliday and the contract has a full no-trade clause and this looks considerably worse.
Fangraphs makes some good points about his UZR/150 and WAR and Holliday’s decline, though it seems to suggest his decline will come at a steady, gradual pace, which is … kind. Plus, his WAR and UZR/150 would be more important if he weren’t playing one of the least defensively important postion in the sport.
But let’s ignore the worst case scenario–the possibility of injuries or that Holliday’s had more good luck than bad over the last five years–what’s the best possible case? That he performs well above-average for at least three or four years and above-average all seven years?
Player A: .323 BA/.390 OBP/ 35-45 HR per season/30-45 doubles per season
Player B: .318 BA/.387 OBP/25-35 HR per season/40-50 doubles per season
Guess which player is which.