Skip to content

Four years later, 2009 free-agent pair comes up big in LCSs

Oct 16, 2013, 1:58 AM EDT

ALCS - Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers - Game Three Getty Images

Headlined by three players, the post-2009 season MLB free agent class was undoubtedly the weakest seen in at least a decade. The prizes: Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (acquired from the A’s earlier that summer), Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay and Angels right-hander John Lackey.

The field was so bad that the fourth biggest contract went to Chone Figgins (four years, $36 million from Seattle). Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman (six years, $30.25 million from the Reds) and left-hander Randy Wolf (three years, $29.75 million) were the only other players to get contracts worth a guaranteed $20 million.

The big question at the time was whether the Red Sox would re-sign Bay or try to upgrade to Holliday in left field. Instead, they shocked pretty much everyone with their play for Lackey, signing him to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in mid-December. They added Mike Cameron on a two-year deal at the same time to officially take themselves out of the mix for the top two outfielders.

Bay went on to sign with the Mets two weeks later, getting a guaranteed $66 million over four years. About 10 days after that, Holliday reupped with the Cardinals for $120 million over seven years. The Orioles were also reported to be in the running for Holliday, but that might have been mostly posturing. Before signing Lackey, the Red Sox reportedly offered Holliday the same five-year, $82.5 million deal that the right-hander received, then moved on when it was declined.

Obviously, of the long-term contracts, only those given to Holliday and Chapman worked out as hoped. Lackey, though, has earned his money this year. He and Holliday both came up very big on Wednesday, with Lackey pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Boston’s 1-0 win over Detroit and Holliday hitting a two-run homer in the Cardinals’ 4-2 defeat of the Dodgers.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how much different things would look right now if the Red Sox had stepped up and signed Holliday, as many thought they would. Lackey had a solid first season in Boston before posting a 6.41 ERA in 2011 and missing all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery. Cameron was injured and rather ineffective in his Boston stint. Obviously, Holliday would have been great to have around in the middle of the order from day one. However, if the Red Sox had signed him, they probably wouldn’t have landed Adrian Beltre on a bargain one-year deal later that winter. Those two went on to produce very similar numbers in 2010.

One thing is for sure: if the Red Sox had signed Holliday, they wouldn’t have given Carl Crawford a seven-year, $142 million contract to play left field the following winter. And if they hadn’t done that, there’s no megatrade with the Dodgers a year ago (perhaps they also don’t trade for Adrian Gonzalez in the first place).

And if the Cardinals had missed out on Holliday? Well, it doesn’t seem like they had any interest in Bay, so they probably would have dodged that bullet. It also isn’t very likely that they would have ended up with Lackey. Perhaps they would have signed Beltre instead, though that would have meant bypassing David Freese at third base. They also could went after Johnny Damon as a left fielder and leadoff man.

For the long term, without Holliday, one imagines there would have been no 2011 World Series championship. There likely would have been more pressure to re-sign Albert Pujols, and if the Cardinals could have gotten that done, not only would they probably be stuck with maybe the game’s worst contracts, but they could have missed out on Michael Wacha, who was selected with the Angels’ pick in the 2012 draft (also, the Angels very well could have ended up with Crawford in this scenario, making it even more likely that Pujols stays in St. Louis).

In the end, it seems that everything worked out for the best. Well, not for the Mets, obviously. And the Mariners. ¬†And the Angels. And, lets face it, 2011-12 weren’t too peachy for the Red Sox. But it definitely worked out best for the Cardinals, and I’m sure at least half of you will tell me that’s really all that matters.

Latest Posts
  1. Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds celebrate the conclusion of the World Series

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:25 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    History’s Greatest Monsters were happy for different reasons last night.

  2. Inside the Giants’ clubhouse …

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    1bochy getty Getty Images

    The champagne and beer is flowing in the visitors clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium following the Giants’ Game 7 win …

  3. Alex Gordon would have been a dead duck had he tried to score

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:11 AM EDT

    Gordon 1

    A breakdown of Alex Gordon’s two-out hit in the bottom of the ninth.

  4. Video: Pablo Sandoval catches final out in foul territory, Giants win 2014 World Series

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT

    giants world series getty Getty Images

    Here’s the final out of Wednesday night’s Game 7 that secured the Giants’ eighth World Series title …

  5. Madison Bumgarner named World Series MVP … obviously

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    1bumgarner getty Getty Images

    Madison Bumgarner threw five scoreless innings to close out Game 7 on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium and allowed just one run in 21 total frames during the 2014 World Series

  6. Game 7 live blog: The Giants are World Series Champions!

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Madison Bumgarner Getty Images

    Madison Bumgarner gets the win. And becomes a legend.

  7. Pablo Sandoval sets new postseason hits record

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

    pablo sandoval getty giants Getty Images

    Giants ace Madison Bumgarner broke Curt Schilling’s postseason innings record in the bottom of the fifth inning. And now Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News shares this nugget …

  8. Madison Bumgarner breaks postseason innings record

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT

    madison bumgarner getty Getty Images

    Giants ace Madison Bumgarner entered Game 7 of the World Series in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed a single to the first batter but got out of that threat and set a new MLB record in the process …

  9. Photo: Joe Panik’s impressive dive and flip

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    joe panik getty AP

    Here’s a cool photo from the Associated Press of the well-executed flip from Giants second baseman Joe Panik that started a huge doubleplay in the bottom of the third inning of World Series Game 7 …

  10. Salvador Perez drilled by pitch, but stays in Game 7

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    salvador perez royals getty Getty Images

    Royals catcher Salvador Perez was plunked in the left leg — just above his knee — in the bottom of the second inning by Giants starter Tim Hudson and took a long time to make it back to his feet and then down to first base. But he’s back out there behind the plate for the top of the third inning.

  11. More fun signs at Kauffman Stadium

    Oct 29, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

    Camera

    This one is about pregnant women.

  12. Colin Kaepernick: “I’m saying the Giants are coming out”

    Oct 29, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    kaepernick giants

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick talked Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday afternoon …

  13. There’s nothing better than a Game 7? Well, maybe there is.

    Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.16.31 PM Getty Images

    No matter how much excitement unfolds or how much history is made tonight, tomorrow there will be no baseball.

  14. Braves expected to make qualifying offer to Ervin Santana

    Oct 29, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    ervin santana getty Getty Images

    Santana turned down a qualifying offer (worth one year, $14.1 million) last offseason from the Royals and then couldn’t find a multi-year contract to his liking on the open market, so he may consider accepting the thing this time around.

  15. Video: Last night’s pre-game moment of silence for Oscar Taveras and Edilia Arvelo

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT

    taveras tribute

    In case you missed this touching tribute before Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night …

  16. Report: Cubs hire Joe Maddon as manager

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics Getty Images

    Maddon leaves Tampa Bay for Chicago.

  17. Madison Bumgarner is probably good for 50 pitches tonight

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Madison Bumgarner AP

    Ned Yost says: “Bumgarner is a great starting pitcher. We’ll see what kind of reliever he is.”

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Bumgarner (3991)
  2. O. Taveras (3057)
  3. J. Maddon (3027)
  4. T. Lincecum (2728)
  5. M. Morse (2119)
  1. P. Sandoval (2110)
  2. H. Pence (2076)
  3. Y. Cespedes (2042)
  4. M. Moustakas (1904)
  5. E. Hosmer (1861)