As planning for the 2023 season accelerated and the start of spring training appeared on the next page of the calendar, it became clearer to Matt Holliday that the time required to start his future in the big-league dugout would mean missing too much with his family in the present.
He made the decision to resign as bench coach before he buttoned up the uniform for the first time.
The Cardinals announced Thursday morning that they hired Joe McEwing, a longtime White Sox coach and former utility player for the Cardinals who earned the nickname “Super Joe,” as Oliver Marmol’s new bench coach. In the same announcement, the Cardinals confirmed Holliday’s resignation.
“When it came down to it, I just didn’t want to miss all the things with my kids,” Holliday told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday. “In theory, four months out it seemed like something I wanted. As it got closer, I just felt like I stopped playing (in the majors) because I didn’t want to miss all the things you miss. When you say ‘yes’ to something you say ‘no’ to something else.”
People are also reading…
Matt and Leslee Holliday have four kids, three of them high school age or younger. Their oldest, Jackson, was the first overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft and signed this past summer with the Baltimore Orioles. Ethan Holliday, one of the best prep players in the country, has already committed to Oklahoma State and will be a MLB Draft top prospect. After Matt’s retirement from playing baseball in 2018, the family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where his brother Josh Holliday is the head coach at Oklahoma State.
Matt has been working with the program as a volunteer assistant coach, and he’s expressed an interest in returning to the majors in a coaching or managing role. In each of the past two winters, Holliday discussed potential roles with the Cardinals.
McEwing, 50, spent the past 15 seasons with the White Sox. He interviewed for the Cardinals’ manager position after the 2011 season and was considered one of the six finalists for the job that went to Mike Matheny.
With the White Sox, McEwing has served as bench coach (2017-20) and spent the past two seasons as the club’s third base coach for manager Tony La Russa. The White Sox notified him at the end of the season that he would not receive an offer to return as they introduced a new manager and staff.
McEwing will be introduced at this weekend’s Winter Warm-up.
Part of Holliday’s role with the team was going to be working with hitters and hitting coach Turner Ward. With Holliday’s decision, the Cardinals added Daniel Nicolaisen, a minor-league hitting coordinator with the Cardinals, to the big-league staff as the third hitting coach.
Patrick “Packy” Elkins, who has been assisting the hitters and hitting coaches in recent seasons, will expand his responsibilities by working with both pitchers and hitters when it comes to analytics and scouting.
Holliday was set to replace his former teammate Skip Schumaker as bench coach after the Miami Marlins hired Schumaker as manager. Before his second season as manager, Marmol has already seen a significant turnover on his staff with hitting coach Jeff Albert and pitching coach Mike Maddux leaving for positions with other major-league clubs.
The Cardinals promoted Turner Ward to hitting coach and Dusty Blake to pitching coach earlier this offseason.
Another arbitration deadline arrives
The front office will continue negotiating with the agents for a few Cardinals on Friday in hopes of agreeing to contracts for 2023 before turning to arbitration hearings to settle the salary differences with as many as nine players. If no agreements are reached, the deadline for teams and players to exchange salary figures for hearings is late Friday.
Although negotiations can continue after the swap of figures, the Cardinals have followed other teams in recent years and told agents if they do not reach an agreement before the exchange deadline they will go to a hearing. An arbiter, after each side makes their case, will choose one of the two salaries exchanged Friday.
The exception the Cardinals have made to their “file-and-trial” policy is any multi-year extensions.
Starters Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery headline the group of arbitration-eligible Cardinals who have not yet agreed on salaries for 2023. Montgomery could command a salary around $10 million. Both Montgomery and Flaherty as well as Jordan Hicks are entering their final arbitration year before free agency. The other six arbitration-eligible Cardinals are Gold Glove-winner Tommy Edman, All-Star closer Ryan Helsley, Gold Glove-winner Tyler O’Neill, lefty Genesis Cabrera, starter Dakota Hudson, and catcher Andrew Knizner.