It's finally official: the St. Louis Cardinals have retained All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday.
Holliday and the club announced today that they've agreed to terms for a seven-year, $120 million contract that will keep the sweet-swinging slugger in St. Louis through 2016. The deal comes complete with no trade clause, and a vesting option for 2017 that will kick in if he finished in the top-10 for the 2016 National League MVP voting.
While we can't be sure what the Cardinals are getting themselves into long-term, we can analyze where this puts the Redbirds right now.
First, the Cardinals as a team have now cemented themselves (along with the defending champion Phillies) as a Top Two team in the National League. They had the pitching. They now have the hitting to support super-slugger Albert Pujols.
Second, where this places the Pujols extension saga. Holliday's deal is the richest of the offseason, and the richest in Cardinals history—yet. Assuming that Albert Pujols re-signs (which he should), his deal should place among one of the largest in baseball—sports, even—history. And how will the Cardinals manage two bulky and unwieldy contracts? Would they retain Adam Wainwright?
Next question: How does this affect the Cardinals position in 2010? In my opinion, the Cardinals were the favorites to win the Central without Holliday. But with the addition of his salami-sized bat, the Cardinals are now the runaway favorites. I could see the Brewers hanging in there, but I don't believe the have the depth of the Cardinals' lineup.
Another immediate concern here: What about third base? The Cardinals are now set at every position but third. Do they stick with rookie and DUI-offender David Freese? Or do they try to sign a low-risk, high-reward guy like Miguel Tejada?
It's clear that St. Louis has a lot of questions after this deal. But they've certainly answered their biggest one.