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ESPN: Cards optimistic about making a Holliday deal

ESPN reports that the Cardinals are hot and heavy with Matt Holliday's people now that Jason Bay has signed with the Mets.

According to Buster Olney, agent Scott Boras has been calling teams that previously expressed interest in Holliday to apparently get their final bids. While he was asking $20 million a season earlier in the off-season, Boras is apparently telling clubs Holliday wants $18 million a year. The Cardinals' five-year offer from a couple of weeks ago averaged $16 million a season. Knowing that Bay got $16.5 million and that Holliday is a younger player with better numbers, the Birds are probably going to have to sweeten their offer a little bit. But if the sides were willing to meet half way at $17 million for five or six years they ought to be able to get this thing done sooner rather than later.

It is believed there are no other bidders who have the money left to spend that Boras has requested. But, while the Cardinals could hold their ground and hope the Yankees don't decide to go over budget and get involved, are they really going to quibble over 1 percent of their expected payroll?

While the Red Sox are said to be out of the Holliday bidding because of payroll concerns, they are apparently still in on the bidding for Adrian Beltre, according to ESPN. There are rumors floating about that Beltre, also a Boras client, could be a target of the Cardinals because of uncertainty surrounding rookie third baseman David Freese. Tabbed the favorite to win the third base job for 2010, Freese has a pending drunk driving charge against him.