It was shortly after the new year in 2012 that Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday signed his seven-year, $120-million contract with the Cardinals.
At the time a lot of people screamed that the Redbirds over-paid for Holliday whom they accused of being a product of Coors field. They griped that the Cardinals were duped into bidding against themselves. Here's a look at how he's fared since signing his deal with St. Louis compared to some other top free agents who have signed over the last three years.
Holliday has hit .302 while averaging 26 homers a year and 93 runs batted in for the Cardinals with an annual paycheck of $17 million.
During that same span Albert Pujols, who left the Cardinals prior to the 2012 season to sign a contract that averages $24 million a season has hit .298 with an average of 36 homers and 109 RBIs.
Josh Hamilton, who just joined Pujols with the Angels, signed a contract that pays $25 million a year for five years. He hit .313 with 33 homers and 103 RBIs from 2010-12 in the hitters' paradise that is the Ballpark at Arlington.
While he technically wasn't a free agent, Joey Votto signed a huge deal with the Reds to prevent him from hitting the open market. He's a .321 hitter who averages 27 homers and 93 RBIs. He'll make $234.5 million over the next 11 seasons thanks to the extension that kicks in before the 2014 season.
It was a similar situation for St. Louis native Ryan Howard who signed a $25 million a year, five season extension with Philadelphia long before he could reach the free agent market. Since 2010 Howard is a .256 hitter who has averaged 26 homers and 93 RBIs. His statistics are drug down by the fact that he played only 71 games in 2012 thanks to a major leg injury that may very well diminish his abilities as a hitter.
Based on Holliday's numbers, he certainly seems to justify his place among the free agent elite. And he's arguably the biggest bargain in this group with a contract that is on the shorter end of the scale in terms of length and also in terms of average pay per season.