Cards meet with Boras over Holliday

Cards meet with Boras over Holliday

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals got their meeting with Scott Boras. It's not at all clear, however, that they're any closer to knowing where they stand with Boras regarding his star client, Matt Holliday.

General manager John Mozeliak sat down with Boras on Sunday night for approximately 90 minutes, discussing Holliday and not much else. Yet Mozeliak still referred to the level of negotiations, if you can call it that, as "still very preliminary." It was uncertain as of Monday evening whether team and agent would speak again before baseball's annual Winter Meetings come to a close on Thursday morning.

The Cardinals say they will maintain some level of patience regarding Holliday, but that they don't intend to be waiting for a matter of weeks.

"I think we're going to be a little patient with Holliday to start," Mozeliak said. "But we're not going to take this deep into the winter."

In the absence of a Holliday signing, the Cardinals might move in one of two directions. They could look at a couple of offensive additions, at both third base and left field. Or they could add one hitter and another pitcher, in addition to the imminent signing of free-agent right-hander Brad Penny.

The stated first preference, however, remains to re-sign Holliday. The Cardinals have approximately $30 million remaining in their budget before the signing of Penny, which reportedly will be for a guaranteed $7.5 million with incentives that could make the deal reach $9 million. Thus, they will have roughly $20 million still to spend.

Since by all reports a Holliday signing will require somewhere north of $15 million per year, it will be very difficult for the Cardinals to sign Holliday and make any upgrades to other spots on the team -- such as the bullpen or bench. Mozeliak insisted, however, that a deal for Penny would not take a Holliday signing off the table.

Even so, complications grow for the Cardinals regarding the star outfielder, who is the top player in this year's free-agent class. Boras has proceeded deliberately, in the club's view, while trying to get a read on what the market is for Holliday. If the pace does not pick up at some point, the Cardinals maintain a willingness to move on.

"They want to maximize his market," Mozeliak said. "I can't speak for when that would unfold. My caveat to that is some of the things that we feel are our options, we don't want that to just go away. So we've got to be very careful of that, because when you're dealing with 3-5 different options, as those start to unwind themselves and define themselves, at some point we may have to get serious about those options."

This much has become clear, though. Any notion that warm feelings from playing in St. Louis will have a bearing on the negotiations has been dashed. In past years, the Cardinals have traded for players and relied on a positive situation to help them in negotiations to keep those players. That will not be the case with Holliday.

"This, right now, is a market-driven deal," Mozeliak said.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.