Rockies searching for a perfect match for Holliday
NEW YORK -- Superstar Matt Holliday and the Rockies are still in the midst of a love affair. But there's a question now about how long it will last.
With negotiations for a new contract for Holliday on hold since talks went nowhere this spring and the young, disappointing Rockies in an unfathomable tailspin, Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd is said by other GMs to be quietly asking around about potential trades for Holliday, an All-Star and one of baseball's best hitters. It is believed that a first attempt with the Mets went nowhere when Rockies people were told that center fielder Carlos Beltran was off limits. But there's still more than two weeks to go before the trade deadline.
"We like Matt very, very much. We know he likes being in Colorado. And we hope something can be worked out,'' O'Dowd said. "If not, we have to look at all our options.''
The chances to work out a contract don't look especially good after the 28-year-old Holliday, whose current deal expires after the 2009 season, rebuffed the Rockies' underpublicized attempt this spring. Holliday, whose 14 homers, 51 RBIs and .337 average pale in comparison to what he did last year (36, 137, .340), could probably earn $20 million a year in his free-agent years, a figure that's likely out of the Rockies' range.
So far, though, it appears the Rockies' trade options aren't close to tempting. While O'Dowd wouldn't get into specifics, he did say, "As we sit here on July 15, I don't sense a fit.'' However, he added, "I can't predict what the next 15 days will hold.''
Holliday, who is represented by superagent Scott Boras, is equally uncertain when asked about his chances to remain in Colorado. "I like it a lot. I have a lot of great teammates and great friends,'' Holliday said. "I'd love to stay there. But it's not always my decision. We'll see how it all unfolds.''
With the trade deadline only 16 days away, O'Dowd's only doing his job by looking around now. It's unclear how committed he is to this endeavor, though, or how likely a deal is. Holliday is the Rockies' best player, and there's still a year and a half to go before he can become a free agent, so there may be no rush. So far teams apparently are unwilling to meet an understandably high price tag for the second-place finisher in the 2007 NL MVP race.
While the likelihood appears to be that Holliday stays put for now, O'Dowd is said to be open-minded about his interests; a canvass of competing GMs indicates that he has sought a variety of packages in return, from big leaguers to prospects to a mixture of the two, depending on what works for each potential trading partner.
Here are the logical phone calls for O'Dowd to make:
1. Angels. They're a solid team with superior talent, and that's especially true in the rotation, which features perhaps three No. 1s and a No. 2. However, in recent years they've tended to value their prospective talent higher than some others, which has limited their trade chances. They did make a spirited attempt last winter at Miguel Cabrera, and the package here would have to be comparable to that one. Pitching prospect Nick Adenhart could be part of an offer, but probably only a small part for a talent such as Holliday. Potential trade partners complain that the Angels seem to want to throw unwanted Gary Matthews Jr. at them.
2. Mets. After sending four of their best prospects to Minnesota for Johan Santana, and refusing to part with Beltran, there may not be enough left to make a real run at Holliday. While some baseball people see Beltran being better away from New York, he remains a favorite of Mets management, and even if they would consider it, he has a no-trade provision that he's said to be unlikely to waive. A trade that would have sent Holliday, center fielder Willy Taveras and perhaps others to New York for Beltran and star outfield prospect Fernando Martinez appeared to have been floated. Meanwhile, it would be very difficult -- though maybe not impossible - for the Mets to form a package around Martinez that could entice the Rockies. A major long shot.
3. Red Sox. The defending world champions could easily compose an enticing package with pitchers such as Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden and Craig Hansen, and they have more fine prospects to offer. But what's the incentive for them? Assuming David Ortiz can return (he said yesterday that he's aiming for a comeback later this month vs. the Yankees), they'd have little reason to deal their kids for yet another slugger, albeit a great one.
4. Dodgers. They also have the type of young players to be able to make a deal to awaken their long slumbering offense, starting with young, talented and underachieving (this year, anyway) outfielder Matt Kemp. But a divided hierarchy seems to have trouble making any sort of deal. Owner Frank McCourt reportedly nixed a trade for CC Sabathia. And who's to say he wouldn't do it again?
5. Field. The Yankees are reluctant to trade their prospects, and are in much greater need of pitching, anyway. With Holliday being a year and a half from free agency, a team on the fringe of the race, or even worse, could possibly make a pitch. The Braves would have the prospects, if they'd like to repeat their Mark Teixeira coup from a year ago.