NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Yankees didn’t start the offseason with the priority of adding a bat, but that nonetheless turned out to be their first significant acquisition. Late Sunday afternoon, on the eve of the winter meetings, they agreed to a one-year, $13-million deal with righthanded-hitting Matt Holliday, who will turn 37 on Jan. 15.
FanRag’s Jon Heyman first reported the deal, which won’t become official until Holliday passes a physical.
The 6-4, 240-pound Holliday, who spent the last 7 1⁄2 seasons with the Cardinals, had a .246/.322/.461 slash line, 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games in 2016. He missed nearly seven weeks late in the season with a broken right thumb before returning for the final weekend of the season.
Holliday will become the Yankees’ primary designated hitter and provide some insurance — though not a great deal — at first base, a position expected to be manned by Greg Bird. Holliday, a leftfielder the vast majority of his career, has nine career starts at first.
Bird, who missed all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery, will compete for the starting job with Tyler Austin.
The Yankees sent Brian McCann to the Astros in exchange for two pitching prospects about three weeks ago, creating the need for someone to fill the DH role.
General manager Brian Cashman, speaking Sunday night in Stamford, Connecticut, where he dressed like an elf and rappelled down a building as part of the city’s annual Heights and Lights tree-lighting festivities, spoke before news of the signing broke.
“If you name a hitter, I’ve talked to him . . . whether it’s [Mike] Napoli, whether it’s [Edwin] Encarnacion, whether it’s [Jose] Bautista, whether it’s Holliday, whether it’s Brandon Moss,” Cashman said. “It’s a number of guys. It was [Carlos] Beltran before he went [to Houston]. There’s a lot of different guys.”
Bolstering the bullpen and rotation was the priority at the start of the offseason — closer Aroldis Chapman remains a top target — but Cashman said the order of how things get done in some ways is out of his hands.
“No, it’s how things happen,” he said. “If I could control the time frame, I would control it. But in free agency especially, you dance to their dance tune.”
While bringing in one more bat can’t be ruled out in order to give Joe Girardi as much flexibility as possible, attention for the remainder of the winter meetings likely will be on pitching.
“There’s only two avenues to improve the major-league club, trade or free agency,” Cashman said. “Obviously, we can stand pat because of what we’ve got. But if we want to go outside the franchise . . . we’ll knock on every door and see if it leads anywhere.”
Yankees lose Lindgren. Lefthander Jacob Lindgren, non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday, signed a one-year deal with the Braves on Sunday morning. Lindgren, a hyped prospect after being taken in the second round of the 2014 draft, made his big-league debut in 2015. He had Tommy John surgery in August and likely is out until 2018. Although they did not want to use a 40-man spot on Lindgren, the Yankees did have some interest in re-signing him to a minor-league deal.
With Brian Heyman in Stamford, Connecticut