The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Will the Holliday trade be good, bad or neutral?


As I sat in the Citizens Bank Park pressbox Friday evening debating the present and future of the Matt Holliday for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson trade, I realized there are a series of factors that together will play into whether or not this trade will be good for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In my opinion, it will take some time to be able to answer with any certainty – unless the Cardinals win the 2009 World Series, that is.

The factors include:

- Will the Cardinals reach the playoffs or win the World Series? (I view the latter as the only important factor while the Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold favors the former in recognition that it is all about getting to the postseason and acknowledging the difficulty once there of winning it all.)

- Will Holliday sign an extension before reaching free agency? (I think if Holliday signs at all, it will be between the end of the regular season and the start of free agency -15 days following the completion of the World Series. Derrick thinks it could happen ala Kyle Lohse before the season is done. There is also a case that he could sign after reaching free agency but in terms of evaluating the value of the trade, that timing is not important.)

- If he signs, at what price? Is it below, at or above market value? Unless it is below market, one would think the Cards could have waited and bought him this winter without having given up the three players. It also has potential Pujols contract implications. (We agreed that it would have to be less than Albert’s $16 million. A more thorough analysis is work for another day.)

- If Holliday declares free agency, will the Cardinals offer arbitration, assuring themselves of two 2010 compensatory draft picks if Holliday declines? (Derrick thinks there is a chance Holliday might accept an arbitration offer, but I just can’t even give that a 1 percent chance.)

- Will either of these compensatory picks eventually yield a Major League star?

- Will one or more of Wallace, Mortensen and Peterson become a Major League star?

Below, I attempted to put all these conditions together to grade each combination of possibilities in order to assess whether the trade will be good, bad or in between.

In every case but the second, I used winning/not winning the World Series as the first criteria. Another version would be to put Derrick’s “making the playoffs” measure everywhere instead. I didn’t do it because I didn’t fully agree.

As always, I am interested in your view(s).

Good trade Bad trade Neutral trade
Cards win 2009 World Series yes
Cards reach postseason yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday resigns below market value and
One or more of three prospects traded becomes MLB star yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday resigns below market value and
None of prospects traded becomes MLB star yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday resigns at or above market value and
One or more of three prospects traded becomes MLB star yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday resigns at or above market value and
None of prospects traded becomes MLB star yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday walks via free agency and
Cards do not offer arbitration yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday walks via free agency and
Cards offer arb and one or both comp picks become MLB star yes but later
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Holliday walks via free agency and
Cards offer arb and neither comp picks become MLB star yes
Cards do not win 2009 World Series and
Cards offer arb and Holliday accepts yes*
* won’t happen

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