The Yankees made a quick strike to land a bat on the eve of baseball's Winter Meetings, agreeing to terms with outfielder/designated hitter Matt Holliday on a one-year, $13 million contract Sunday.
The signing has not been officially announced by the team. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi confirmed the signing and its financial terms.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he could not specifically speak to Holliday, who still must pass a physical for the deal to become official, but indicated that the slugger met several criteria that the team had outlined for its next designated hitter.
"Ultimately with the DH role, our preference would be to find someone that would be a short-term contract that allows us to retain our Draft pick, that prioritizes payroll flexibility as we move forward, doesn't block any kids going forward in the future," Cashman said. "Matt Holliday would qualify under all those circumstances."
Holliday, who turns 37 in January, batted .246 with a .322 on-base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage in 110 games for the Cardinals this past season, hitting 20 doubles, one triple and 20 home runs with 62 RBIs. He missed nearly seven weeks late in the season due to a fractured right thumb.
The right-handed hitter is a seven-time All-Star and has spent 7 1/2 of his 13 big league seasons with St. Louis, owning a lifetime .303 average with 295 home runs and 1,153 RBIs in 1,773 games for the Cardinals, Rockies and Athletics.
"We didn't score enough last year, so we were trying to improve that in certain ways," Cashman said.
The Yankees' search for a proven hitter started with last month's trade of Brian McCann to the Astros for two Minor League pitching prospects.
Holliday figures to see most of his time as a designated hitter for New York, though he could also see time as a corner outfielder and as a backup to the projected Greg Bird/Tyler Austin platoon at first base, where he has played 10 career games -- all this past season.
In addition to Holliday, the Yankees had shown some level of interest in free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, but balked at his high price tag and attached Draft compensation. Encarnacion has reportedly turned down a four-year, $80 million offer from the Blue Jays.
"Ultimately, he's an exceptional hitter," Cashman said of Encarnacion. "As of right now, our plan is to go with the kids at first and [Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks] in right field. The DH criteria is what I'm looking to settle on, so I don't have a spot for him right now."
New York was interested in Carlos Beltran but did not tender the former Yankee an offer before he agreed to a one-year, $16 million deal with the Astros.
"He moved quicker than we had an interest in moving on," Cashman said. "I don't feel like I missed out on any opportunities so far; I think the bat market is flush and I think the bullpen market is flush. Just because his time frame was quicker, that's good for him. He found the place, the money, the contract, the term and a full no-trade that made him jump. Our time frame was going to be a little longer than that."
With the lineup vacancy plugged, Cashman arrived at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on Monday afternoon and turned his full attention to the Yankees' pitching needs. Cashman indicated that a report suggesting he had checked in on Twins infielder Brian Dozier was false.
Cashman has said the Yankees are in the market for multiple relievers, as they remain strongly interested in a reunion with free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, and would like to add a solid starting pitcher to supplement a rotation headed by Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia.