The Yankees came into the off-season prior to the 2017 season looking for some power in their lineup, especially after finishing on the bottom half of the league in homers in 2016 with Carlos Beltran eventually leading the team with 22 homers even though he was traded during the trade deadline in July. Knowing this, the Yankees signed veteran Matt Holliday to a 1 year, $13 Million dollar contract for the 2017. After an up and down campaign, he looks to be someone the Yankees look away from as they head into free agency.
Holliday is a 7-time All-Star, a 4-time Silver Slugger award winner, won the 2007 NL batting title, and finished 2nd in NL MVP voting in 2007. He had 10 seasons where he hit 20 or more homers and had 7 seasons where he had 90 or more RBIs. So the Yankees knew they had gotten a guy who was decorated and would help in a specific area of their team. They also liked what he could give personality wise, providing a veteran presence to the younger crop of players coming to the team and filling that void that Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann had before moving onto Houston. One thing that probably worried them along with the fans was his injury history. With age comes the possibly of more injury and prolonged injury. In the past two seasons before joining the Yanks, he dealt with a strained quad and a fractured thumb that shortened both of those seasons for him. This is most likely the reason why he may have not gotten a multi-year contract or one with more money involved. Teams knew the risk and reward for signing him, so a 1-year deal made it seem low risk with a lot of potential reward. When it was announced of his signing, some of the fan-bases’ immediate reaction was that the Yanks were going back to their old strategy when it came to signing players, which was to sign veterans that were at or near their ceiling of their career. But once it was reassured that the signing would help boost the team’s power while also adding another mentor to the up-and-comers, it was understood to be a fine move. And for the first half of the season, it proved to be just that.
Before being placed on the D.L. on June 25th with a viral infection, Holliday had a darn good 1st half. In 68 games played, he slashed .262/.366/.511. Additionally, he hit 15 homers, had 47 RBIs, and walked 37 times. He was also a hard-contact machine and had little problem putting balls into play. I don’t think the team could have asked for more out of the 37-year-old, maybe except play a little more in the field but that could fall more on management who might have thought playing him more than 2 or 3 times a week would easily fatigue or could injure him. Sadly he was out until after the All-star break, but the Yanks managed well without him for the most part.
The 2nd half was mostly a different story, as he missed about a month of action with a lumbar strain. In the time he played between the first game after the All-Star game and his 2nd DL stint (20 Games), he slashed .136/.165/.198 and just homered once. Seemed like he was still feeling the effects of the viral infection he had while a new injury started to rein on him. In the last 17 games he played in before the postseason, he slashed .237/.303./441 hitting 4 homers and drove 13 runners in. So it seemed like he was getting healthy but still needed time to adjust again. There was also a pretty noticeable discrepancy in his soft and hard contact %. Before his two D.L. stints, he had a 19.4 soft contact % as opposed to a 35.8 hard contact %. After his first DL stint, he had a 24.2 soft contact % as opposed to a 25.3 hard contact %. The differential between these two time-frames are quite telling of the way he felt and how his injury/illness did a number on him in terms of how hard he hit the ball. With a hot month and a half from Jacoby Ellsbury, the return of Greg Bird, and some good contributions from Chase Headley and Todd Frazier, Holliday didn’t really have a big role on with the team as they went on to Game 7 of the ALCS. With that, possibly means the end of his tenure with the Yankees.
I truly think it’ll be hard to find Holliday back on the roster and with a fulfilling role. The Yanks might go after Todd Frazier on a short-term deal, as they love his glove and the lively spirit he brings to the team although there’s a chance he takes more money and years somewhere else. If they do re-sign him, a logjam might be created as they still have Chase Headley for one more year and the emerging rookie in Miguel And jar. So they could possibly use 2/3 of those guys for DH and 3B and rotate them. The Yanks also have Gleyber Torres, who had Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm and will keep him out of competitive action until May or June. He’s mostly played 2B/SS in the minors, but they’re trying to get him some more reps at third as Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro man the middle infield spots. Cashman said on Monday that they will most likely not make any big moves and will just make some smaller moves to improve their team. They could possibly use that money to sign Shohei Otani if he is posted, re-sign C.C. Sabathia, a back-end starter if neither of those two are available, or possibly some more bullpen depth. Although Holliday might not cost all too much, it seems like it comes down if they have enough room for him.
I really liked the signing of Holliday before this past season and I love what he contributed to the team for the most part. Having said that, this team is starting to take shape with some more young players arriving from the minors and Holliday has almost no place here. If we find ourselves with almost no options from doing something like a trade or not signing anyone else I’d welcome him back, if we do then it was nice having Matt Holliday wear the Pinstripes.