Holidays pass, and Holliday's still out there
All eyes fixated on Matt Holliday when 2010 arrived. With John Lackey and Jason Bay finding new destinations for the upcoming season, Holliday is easily the most coveted free agent left in the market. Is a return to St. Louis inevitable? On Friday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made it appear that way when he wrote via Twitter, "[The] Giants were smart to sign first-class winner Mark DeRosa. Soon, the Cards will be smart, too." But in speaking with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently, La Russa insisted he wasn't implying that the Cardinals are closing in on re-signing Holliday. The Cardinals' skipper said he just felt general manager John Mozeliak's next move would be "smart." The Cardinals have reportedly discussed a multitude of offers with Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, ranging from five to eight years, and an unnamed source told the Post-Dispatch a contract within the six- or seven-year range would be most desirable. However many years it is, if Holliday signs with the Cardinals, it is expected to be the largest contract ever finalized by the club.
In reporting last week that Boras has been doubling back to prospective buyers for Holliday, ESPN.com said Boras' asking price in at least one conversation was $18 million annually. The Orioles recently surfaced as a possible destination for Holliday, but the Cardinals seem to be the most logical fit for the soon-to-be 30-year-old outfielder -- a point that's becoming more and more clear as the free-agent pool shrinks. Holliday or not, La Russa told the Post-Dispatch, "We're getting ready to move. I know they've been talking a lot with Matt. I know we have a really smart Plan B. ... [It] could be on Plan A, or it could be our Plan B. The point is, we're not going to get stuck."
Red Sox agree to deal with Beltre
MLB.com's Ian Browne reported the Red Sox have an agreement in place to sign third baseman Adrian Beltre to a one-year deal with a player option. Peter Gammons of MLB.com and MLB Network reported that the one-year deal is worth $9 million with a $5 million player option for 2011, and that the deal is pending a physical. The question now is what's next for third baseman Mike Lowell, who was nearly dealt to the Rangers last month before the trade fell through because of medical reasons. The Red Sox might have to wait until Spring Training if they want to deal Lowell, as he might have to prove he's healthy enough to play after undergoing surgery last week to repair the radial collateral ligament in his right thumb.
Mets get their man
The Mets addressed their 2009 Citi Field power outage in a big way recently, when they reached agreement on a four-year contract with free-agent outfielder Jason Bay on Tuesday. The deal, worth a reported $66 million plus a vesting option for a fifth season, became official on Monday, when Bay passed his physical. A news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET Tuesday at Citi Field. The 31-year-old right-handed slugger, who's averaged 30 homers and 99 RBIs in his first six full seasons in the big leagues, would address the Mets' hole in left field and give them a much-needed power bat for the middle of the order. Last year, New York mustered just 49 home runs in 81 games at the spacious Citi Field in the midst of a 92-loss season. In hopes of keeping pace with the reigning National League-champion Phillies, New York is also looking to add a frontline catcher -- perhaps Bengie Molina? -- and starting pitcher -- Joel Pineiro is still out there -- to the roster.
Cubs find Bradley replacement
And a better one, they hope. Shortly after trading disgruntled outfielder Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva in a bad-contract swap with the Mariners, the Cubs acquired their 2010 center fielder: Marlon Byrd. Chicago signed the 32-year-old slugger to a three-year deal worth $15 million on Thursday to potentially give them a bit more pop, considering Byrd doubled his previous career-high by hitting 20 homers with the Rangers in 2009, and allowed them to slide Kosuke Fukudome to his more comfortable position of right field. This marks the second consecutive offseason Chicago has signed a free-agent outfielder from the Rangers, and the new ownership group is hoping Byrd pans out a lot better than Bradley, whose tumultuous one-year stint with the Cubs ended with a 15-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
DeRosa heads to the Bay Area
Yet another position player found a new home during the holidays, as Mark DeRosa signed a two-year, $12-million contract with the Giants that became official on Tuesday. DeRosa was a valued member of the free-agent market because of his versatility -- he's played every position except pitcher, catcher and center field in his 12-year career -- and he's batted .281 while averaging 17 homers and 78 RBIs the past four years -- and affordable price tag. The Giants, meanwhile, badly needed a bat after ranking 13th in the Major Leagues in runs (657) this past season. At this point, the 34-year-old is expected to play third base in San Francisco, the position he has registered the most games at (311) in his career. That would move Pablo Sandoval to first base, but DeRosa's versatility allows the Giants to explore a wide variety of other options in free agency if they choose to.
Phillies nab another bullpen arm
In case Brad Lidge struggles to close out games once again next season, the Phillies added some closing experience to the back end of the bullpen by reaching agreement on a two-year contract with Danys Baez. The deal was reported Thursday, and a physical is expected at some point this week. Entering the 2010 season, only Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin are the only locks for the bullpen, with Lidge and Romero recovering from elbow surgeries that could sideline them for the start of the season. In Baez, a 32-year-old right-hander with 114 career saves -- including 41 with the Rays in '05 -- Philadelphia gains a bit of insurance.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.