Matt Holliday’s return to Coors Field makes it a good time to reflect on how well the Rockies handled his trade 10 years ago.
It was in Nov. 2008 that Colorado flipped Holliday, who was one season away from free agency, and received 23-year-old outfield Carlos Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and starting pitcher Greg Smith in return.
It was exactly the right time to trade Holliday in order to maximize on the return.
According to statistics from baseball-reference.com, Holliday was worth 5.3 Wins Above Replacement in 2009 – the final year the Rockies would have had him.
Smith didn’t pan out, but Street was worth 3.1 WAR in his time with Colorado before being traded. Gonzalez, the key to the deal all along, was worth 18 WAR during his arbitration-eligible years. In that time he won a batting title, helped the Rockies get into the 2009 postseason, made three All-Star teams, earned three Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and finished third in the 2010 NL MVP race. Of course Gonzalez also re-signed with Colorado and has added to those numbers. But we’re looking at what the team gained specifically by trading for him, not by retaining him.
So, the Rockies traded 5.3 WAR for 21.3 WAR.
If Colorado wanted Holliday beyond 2009, they could have had him by outbidding the other 29 teams. They let St. Louis pick up that large tab instead, further exhibiting how they maximized his value.
In his career, Holliday has been worth 44.7 WAR. He accrued 41.4 percent of that while with the Rockies, but the team has paid only 9 percent of his nearly $160 million career earnings. The Cardinals paid the bulk of that money to Holliday in his 30s.
And now here Holliday is, likely at the end of his career, back on a inexpensive minor league deal to see how he might be able to help his original franchise get back into the postseason. The team will hope to again get the most for its dollar from one of its all-time best - a smart move once again.