Holliday prefers New York, New York

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matt holliday cardinals.jpgSo Matt Holliday likes the Big Apple?

According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, who cites “a person in the loop,” the Cardinals’ free agent slugger and playoff goat views the Yankees as his No. 1 free agent choice, with the Mets coming in at No. 2.

Davidoff is skeptical that either place makes sense.

As of now, I’d say the Yankees don’t want to make another large purchase like that, in the wake of last winter’s shopping spree – and if they win it all, then the pressure from the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) to get Holliday should alleviate.

First of all, does the pressure from the “yakosphere” ever really slow down? And secondly, look at what the Yankees have coming off the books: Johnny Damon ($13 million), Hideki Matsui ($13 million), Xavier Nady ($6.5 million), Andy Pettitte ($5 million) and Chieng-Ming Wang ($5 million). That’s $42.5 million, so the Yankees should definitely have some wiggle room.

Of course, they’ll also have to figure out what to do with their rotation behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and, I assume, Joba Chamberlain, and account for raises. I’m not saying it’s a perfect fit, but I wouldn’t rule it out just yet.

But what about the Mets?

The Mets? Based on Jeff Wilpon’s words from a few weeks ago, they’ll consider anything and everything. Of course, many industry folks are very skeptical that the Mets will actually do so.

Holliday’s primary reservation about joining the Mets? Yup, hitting at Citi Field. Maybe they can alter the dimensions? Jerry Manuel hinted near the end of the season that wasn’t impossible.

So they might be rolling out the red carpet in Queens … maybe. I hope it includes one heckuva medical plan.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.