On Sunday evening, Sweeney Murti reported that the Yankees were close to a deal with Matt Holliday. Minutes later, Jon Heyman confirmed that a one-year, $13 MM deal had been reached. I wrote about Holliday as a potential target for the team's vacant designated hitter slot, alongside eight other names. To wit:
You'll undoubtedly note that Holliday is not a left-handed hitter - but I have to include him, if only because I wanted the Yankees to sign him this time seven years ago. The 36-year-old had virtually no platoon split this year (107 wRC+ vs. LHP, 109 vs. RHP), which has been the case throughout his career. And he garnered praise for learning first base on the fly last year, to boot.
Last season was largely considered a disappointment for Holliday, as the seven-time All-Star posted his worst wRC+ since his rookie season, and produced just 0.3 bWAR / 0.7 fWAR (either mark represents the lowest output of his career). Disconcerting as that may be, it's important to note that his 109 wRC+ would have been third on the Yankees last season (behind Sanchez and Beltran), and right around league-average for a designated hitter. His days as an MVP candidate are long gone, but there's little reason to suggest that he cannot be a competent hitter - particularly if he doesn't have to play the field on anything more than an occasional (or, preferably, emergency) basis.
There are two reasons for optimism about his bat, as well.
The first is that Holliday made a great deal of contact last season (his strikeout rate was five percentage points better than league-average), and he hit the ball with authority. As per Statcast, only Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton had a higher average exit velocity than Holliday. That's it. Two players with prodigious raw power were ahead of him, and Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, and Pedro Alvarez were next. Exit velocity is not necessarily indicative of success (Ryan Zimmerman and his 67 wRC+ were 9th last season) - but it's a great sign nevertheless.
And the other, simply put, is that Holliday obviously wore down as the season went on. His wRC+ dropped each full month (from 126 to 114 to 99 to 67), as did his walk to strikeout ratio, and a broken finger all but ended his season on August 11. Though, to be fair, he did make a fantastic memory in a pinch hit appearance on September 30. The wear and tear of playing the outfield everyday could not have helped matters, particularly as he had dealt with lower body issues throughout the 2015 season (in which he only played 73 games). His current skill-set, health and all, is tailor made for the DH slot.
There may have been better options on the market, as many have suggested thus far, but I am quite confident in Holliday's abilities to bolster the Yankees lineup in 2017. And I wouldn't be surprised if his production looked a bit more like it did in 2014 and 2015, either.