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Cardinals officially decline Matt Holliday’s option

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As previously rumored, the Cardinals have officially declined outfielder Matt Holliday‘s option for 2017, according to a report by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The club announced their intention to decline the veteran’s $17 million salary back in September, and while GM John Mozeliak wouldn’t confirm a permanent split, Holliday’s return to the team under a new contract seems unlikely.

It was an off year for the 36-year-old left fielder, who saw a career-worst batting line of .246/.322/.461 in 426 plate appearances and was sidelined through the second half after taking a pitch off of his right thumb. Although he didn’t perform at the All-Star level the Cardinals saw in 2015, he hit a few milestones before landing on the disabled list, including his 1,000th franchise hit and 500th at Busch Stadium. His 20 home runs made 2016 the 12th major league season in which he produced double-digit homers.

Holliday will become a free agent for the first time since he signed his seven-year, $120 million deal with the Cardinals in 2010. While he may not have the defensive profile the Cardinals are searching for, his bat could still land him a spot as a DH before 2017 rolls around.

Evan Gattis says he is ‘done playing’ baseball

Evan Gattis
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In a recent appearance on the 755 Is Real Podcast, hosted by The Athletic’s David O’Brien and former Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty, catcher Evan Gattis confirmed he is “done playing” baseball. Gattis said back in October that he didn’t have any desire to continue playing the game, so this news comes as no surprise.

Gattis, 33, hit .226/.284/.452 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI for the Astros in 2018. The Astros did not extend him a qualifying offer, then $17.9 million. Though reporting on specific offers is scant, it is hard to imagine he received zero offers, or would have received zero offers if he were still interested in playing.

Gattis has one of the more interesting stories out there. He was a well-regarded college baseball prospect, but he battled anxiety and substance abuse. He checked into rehab and, temporarily, abandoned his baseball-related pursuits. Gattis eventually resumed playing college baseball but suffered an injury, prompting him to drop out of college. He went on to take on some not-so-glamorous jobs, including working in a pizza shop, as a parking valet, a ski-lift operator, and a janitor. Gattis battled more mental health issues, suffering from insomnia and depression, resulting in suicidal ideation. He checked into an inpatient psychiatric ward for several days. Afterwards, Gattis roamed around the west coast, going from Colorado to New Mexico to California to Wyoming.

In 2010, Gattis returned to baseball, playing for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He performed rather well, resulting in his being drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round that year. He worked his way through the minors quickly, debuting in the majors in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history. Gattis retires with a career .248/.300/.476 batting line along with 139 home runs, 410 RBI, and 299 runs scored over 2,662 trips to the plate.

The story of Gattis is an important one because mental health in general was not taken seriously, especially among men. It still isn’t, to a large degree, but it’s better now than it was 10 years ago. Due to social taboos and gender norms, men are much less likely to seek help for mental health issues. That Gattis — a burly avatar of testosterone — was willing to be vulnerable about his struggles with his mental health was important.