Yankees finalize deal with Matt Holliday

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

OXON HILL, Md. -- Matt Holliday has won a World Series title and a batting championship. He has played in All-Star Games and been lauded by adoring home fans.

A month shy of his 37th birthday, he still has some baseball adventures left.

"The opportunity to play for a historic franchise and then to put on a New York Yankees uniform, this was something that was really appealing to me,"he said Wednesday.

Holliday and the Yankees finalized a $13 million, one-year contract Wednesday, the first major league contract New York agreed to with a free agent since the 2014-15 offseason. He figures to be primarily a designated hitter, although he could see time in the outfield and at first base.

"He makes us better and at a very cost-effective rate in terms of a one-year deal," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We hope he's going to be a very significant addition."

Cashman initially referred to him as "Halladay" -- as in retired pitcher Roy Halladay.

"Am I messing things up? I'm getting tired," he said.

New York, which hasn't won a postseason game since 2012, has offers out to free-agent closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, who would bump Dellin Betances back to the eighth inning.

Cashman also has explored deals with teams. Baltimore might be interested in trying to obtain Brett Gardner.

"A lot of different trade concepts," Cashman said.

Holliday hit .246 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games this year, missing 44 games after his left thumb was broken by a 94 mph fastball from the Chicago Cubs' Mike Montgomery on Aug. 11. The Yankees cited his exit velocity, saying MLB's Statcast determined he hit the ball at least 100 mph 42.5 percent of the time this year.

He figures to be primarily a designated hitter in a lineup where the projected outfield has Jacoby Ellsbury in center, Gardner in left and 24-year-old Aaron Judge in right. Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin are the backups.

Holliday looks forward to hitting regularly in Yankee Stadium.

"I think my strength of driving the ball to the right-center field gap lines up pretty well," he said. "I think I have some, at times, some mis-hits in the air to right field that could potentially be rewarded with the shorter porch."

A seven-time All-Star with a .303 career average, Holliday was drafted by Colorado in 1998 and won the 2007 National League batting title with a .340 average, helping the Rockies reach the World Series for the first time as he earned the NL Championship Series MVP award.

Traded to Oakland after the 2008 season and then dealt to St. Louis the following July, he became a key part of the Cardinals as they won the World Series -- although he hit .158 with no RBIs in the seven games against Texas.

Playing in a large media market also will be a new experience. Given his age, three or four hitless games would spark talk on radio, television and back pages that he's through.

"I don't pay too much attention. I never really have in my career," he said. "I'm sure in New York it might be a little harder not to pay attention to it, I guess just 'cause there's so many media and things going on."