If the Rockies are serious about trading Matt Holliday like the reports state, then they are about to make a huge mistake. I understand all the reasons to trade Holliday: free agent after 2009, wants a huge contract. That thought process is very logical: there is no way in hell that Holliday will sign with us so we better try to get what we can for him now." If that's what GM Dan O'Dowd is thinking, then that's great, I understand.
But there is no doubt in my mind that this move would be a huge mistake. For starters, the Rockies are not far from becoming a contending team. The NL West is absolutely terrible and every team in the division (besides the Giants) has a realistic chance of competing. Dealing Holliday now would ultimately doom the Rockies chances of competing and signal to the fans that the 2009 season is a wash. Considering how weak the division is, it would be irresponsible to move Holliday right now.
Probably the best argument against trading Holliday now is the Johan Santana effect. As we all remember, the Twins traded Santana last offseason to the Mets and by all accounts, did not receive a phenomenal package from the Mets. Teams backed away from Santana because they knew his contract demands and they knew that they might only have him for a season. And even in the case of the Mets, they gave up less player wise because they knew that they would have to spend an additional $140 mil to sign Santana. So simply put, Holliday's contract situation diminishes the potential return that the Rockies could see right now.
But what Holliday's contract does allow, is for GM Dan O'Dowd to attempt to trade his star right fielder in the middle of the season at the trading deadline. Case in point, Mark Teixeira and the Braves. The Braves knew that Tex was not going to sign with them, but they at least gave themselves a chance to compete in the NL East by retaining Tex for the beginning of the season. As it turns out, the Braves stunk, so GM Frank Wren dealt Tex at the end of July for 1B Casey Kotchman, who will be the Braves first baseman for the next few seasons at a cheap price. The Braves were still able to get a good package for Tex because his value spiked because many teams were looking for a stud who could propel them to the playoffs. This will be now different in 2009. Plus, as of right now, I don't think the big guys (Mets, Yankees, Red Sox) will be involved with Holliday. It is very difficult to develop a market for Holliday without the big guys being involved.
One final point on Holliday, GM Dan O'Dowd should look at this year's free agent OF class and immediately drop the telephone. While the class is not deep, it is very top heavy and features players who offer very similar production to Holliday. Outfielders Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, and maybe Bobby Abreu all offer similar production to teams as Holliday. Why would a team give up prized prospects and other young players for Holliday when they could simply throw some big bucks at one of these free agents. Holliday's market is further diminished by the quality free agents in this year's class.
So in short, hold. Give the Rockies a shot to compete, and you know what, if that doesn't pan out, then move Holliday. Worse to comes to worse, the Rockies would gain two high draft picks in the 2010 draft. Moving Holliday now is a terrible idea and needs to be reconsidered.