Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can Matt Holliday Become Mark Teixiera?

Scott Boras recently caused a stir in the blogosphere by making this statement about his client and the consensus "best free agent position player", Matt Holliday:
"Scott Boras threw out the ceremonial first pitch in free agency today, comparing Matt Holliday to Mark Teixeira in the impact the agent believes each player can have on a club.

"These guys are blue-collar superstars," Boras said. "They don't hit 50 home runs, but they're complete players. They can give you something without swinging a bat."

Teixeira signed with the New York Yankees last winter, for $180 million. Boras would not say what his asking price would be for Holliday, but he made clear he considered Holliday's abilities in getting on base, hitting for power and playing superior defense similar to those of Teixeira.

"There are differences between hitters and complete players," Boras said. "Matt Holliday is a complete player.

"There is, frankly, no one like him in the market."
Boras's remark was met by ridicule and many, many snide comments. No one seems to think that Scott Boras can get Matt Holliday a contract similar to the one he got Mark Teixiera last offseason (in an economic crisis, nonetheless). Of course, there are a number of factors that will determine if Holliday nets roughly $110 million, or $180 million like Teixiera.

1. The market

Most people seem to think that the Teixiera sweepstakes was just another part of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, which in a small way it was. But we have remember that there were many other players, who added into this equation.

-There was the Angels, who longed to keep Teixeria and reportedly made an offer somewhere in the 8 year/$160 million dollar range.

-There was the Orioles, who were trying hard to sell Teixiera on the idea of playing for his hometown team. Even though the Orioles were struggling as a franchise, they too, made a decent offer to Teixiera on top of pulling at his heart strings.

-And then there was the Nationals, who were the worst team in the National League in 2008, but desperate to make a splash and catapult themselves onto the stage with the big boys. And depending on your source, the Nationals made Teixiera a huge offer, possibly the most lucrative one he had on the table.

(Note: It helps when the Yankees are involved!)

Will Scott Boras be able to drum up a market similar to that for Matt Holliday?

2. Competition

Outside of Teixiera, there was no other first baseman who was anywhere near his league. Sure, Adam Dunn is a great power hitter, but he did not offer the complete package that Mark Teixiera offered and could not play defense. Outside of Teixiera and Dunn, no other first baseman got more than a one year deal last offseason. For any team looking to pick up a great first baseman, the choice was obvious: Mark Teixiera.

This is the area where Boras will have a tough time because of one man: Jason Bay. Even though Holliday is a better all around player, Bay provides interested teams with a somewhat cheaper alternative to Holliday. Bay is only 31 years old and is one of the best power hitters in the American League. Because both Holliday and Bay are free agents, there is no clear cut obvious choice for teams, who want a franchise quality power hitting outfielder. In addition, it might be more difficult for Boras to get clubs into a bidding war when there are two star quality outfielders on the market, not just one.

So no, I don't think Matt Holliday's contract will come close to matching that of Mark Teixiera's. It will be interesting to watch Boras try and drum up competition and create a market for his client, who undoubtedly is looking to cash in on a monster second half with the Cardinals.


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Anonymous said...

Doesn't take much to realize Holliday won't get $180mil, but I don't think the comparison between the two is really that off.

Teixeira is one of the top 3 to 5 first basemen in the game. Can you really name 4 left fielders who are hands-down all around better players than holliday? I don't think I can.

There's also no argument whatsoever in my mind that Bay is comparable to Holliday, making him the "best" FA this year.

Jorge Says No! said...


You can make the case that Tex and Holliday are both top 25 players in baseball, but their free agent difference will simply come down to market differences.

Anonymous said...

Definitely, I just don't agree with the flack people seem to be giving Boras for making the comparison between the two.

If Bay weren't around and the Yankees needed a LF in the way they needed a 1B last year, I don't think them giving him close to $180m would've been out of the question.

Basically I agree with you 100%--I was more addressing the widespread "omg boras is [insert your pick of derogatory term]!" comments regarding the comparisons he made between Teixeira and Holliday.