Is Matt Holliday long for St. Louis?

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You know the story by now: a veteran comes to St. Louis, loves it there, wins some games, falls for all of that “best fans in baseball business” and decides to make it a home.  Jim Edmonds is the best example of it.  Come to think of it, he might be the only significant example.  Still, that meme seems to hold true for some reason, at least in the minds of Cardinal fans.

A lot of people figured that Matt Holliday might fit that profile too.  Financially speaking he probably screwed up in not taking the Rockies’ last contract offer, and he was more or less lost in Oakland the first part of this year, making him a less attractive free agent in the minds of many.  Plus he has Scott Boras for an agent, making things even more prickly.  Given his post-trade surge, he seems like a great candidate to say “hey, this is a great situation!  I have Albert Pujols hitting in front of me, fans who love me, and a lot of weak NL Central pitching to feast on.  I’m staying!”

Not so fast says ESPN’s Buster Olney (sorry; link is to Insider material).  Olney takes a look at the Cardinals’ business plan over the past few years and makes a pretty good case that Holliday will not be seriously pursued by the club.  St. Louis doesn’t seem to want a $100M+ payroll if they can help it, they’re going to sign DeRosa, and Pujols, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are going to get more expensive over the course of any hypothetical Matt Holliday deal.

Olney thinks that leaves Holliday the odd man out.  In fact, he thinks Holliday will sign with the Angels.  I’m inclined to agree with the “Holliday won’t come back” part, but you have to figure that Anaheim wasn’t all that impressed by what they saw of him while he played for the A’s.  Plus, you have to figure that Holliday will want to stay in NL given his little jaunt around the junior circuit this summer.

As for the Cardinals, if they don’t bring him back, I presume that they’ll keep up the same old model: see if they can win with Albert, some pitching and a prayer.  If that’s not working by July, they’ll rent a bat for the second half, and hope that the Cubs don’t figure things out in the meantime.

Not a bad plan, really.  Especially the part that depends on the Cubs to self-destruct at one point or another. 

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.