matt-holliday

The Yankees and Matt Holliday have agreed to a contract

By Brendan Kuty

OXON HILL, MD. — The Yankees and veteran Matt Holliday agreed to a deal on Sunday, a source with knowledge of the team’s personnel decisions told NJ Advance Media.

The agreement was pending a physical.

WFAN’s Sweeney Murti first reported the sides were nearing a contract. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported it was a one-year pact worth $13 million.

Here’s what it means:

NEW DH: Holliday will take over as the Yankees’ full-time designated hitter. He seems like a good fit for the role. In 2016, Holliday slugged 20 homers and drove in 62 runs in 110 games. He also hit .246 with a .782 OPS. But that was primarily as a left fielder. Moving to DH will allow Holliday to stay fresh.

FLEXIBILITY: Holliday will provide the Yankees backup in the outfield and at first base, though he played just eight games there in 2016. General manager Brian Cashman said he preferred to add a DH that would give the Yankees the flexibility they didn’t have at the position last year when Alex Rodriguez was struggling for the first half. A-Rod was strictly a DH. Holliday is limited in the outfield and has little first base experience, but it’s better than nothing — to the Yankees, anyway.

MOVING ON: Now that the Yankees have signed Holliday, they can move on to other pressing concerns. On Friday, Cashman indicated closer was a priority when he talked about how much it might cost to add a free agent, such as Aroldis Chapman, and how that could affect the Yankees’ spending at other areas of need. But, then, he said he wouldn’t make any proclamations as to what’s an actual priority. It was understandable GM speak: Why tip your cards if you don’t have to? Anyway, the Yankees’ priority list should look like this now: Closer, starting rotation help, bullpen help. Yes, in that order.

KEEP THE PICK: The Yankees want to hold on to their first-round pick. That goes without saying, probably. But if they wanted to sign Edwin Encarnacion or Mark Trumbo or Jose Bautista to fill the role, they would have lost it. So, for now, the Yankees keep the selection, which is currently No. 17.

VETERAN PRESENCE: In trading Brian McCann to the Astros, the Yankees lost a respected clubhouse voice. Few in the game, however, are more respected than Holliday, a seven-time All-Star.

MAYBE ANOTHER TRADE?: Spitballing here: Holliday played 84 games in left field for the Cardinals last year. Could the Yankees be nearing a trade that would send Brett Gardner elsewhere? Gardner has been the subject of trade speculation for years. Though he’s a homegrown Yankee, the team could be interested in moving him if it makes them younger — and cheaper. Gardner is due $12 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018. The Yankees also have Aaron Hicks, who underperformed last year though the team thinks he’s not finished developing.

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