While no one (outside of team leadership and Camp Boras) is sure what the details of the Cardinals offer to Matt Holliday are, there is a rumor floating about that it is for less than the $18 million average value originally -- and publicly demanded.
If that's true, the Redbirds are playing a pretty high stakes game of chicken. That's less money than contract extension offer that Holliday received and rejected from the Rockies before he was traded away to Oakland. And the team would be running the risk of causing Holliday's camp to dig in its heels and drag out negotiations further than the Birds can afford to wait.
An argument against the lower offer theory is that agent Scott Boras hasn't flatly and loudly rejected it. I just can't believe that he is willing at this point of the off-season to come off of his claim that Holliday deserves at least as much as the $180-million deal Mark Teixeira got from the Yankees. Why would Holliday go through all the trouble of insisting he wanted to test the market and take less than half of what he was asking so quickly?
There are only two ways I can see this working out with Holliday coming to the Cardinals: 1) The Cardinals made an offer that was very reasonable and the two sides are confident they can bridge the gap in a timely manner, or 2) The market is so weak that Holliday's camp is convinced the Cardinals are making the best offer they are going to get and they are afraid they'll move on to Plan B and the money will be gone.