While still waiting for the market to develop, lefty Derek Holland hasn’t made it a secret that if he would have it his way, he’ll be playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates next season.
Holland bounced back from two injury-filled seasons in 2014 and 2015, but hasn’t done enough to give the Rangers a reason to re-sign him immediately. Through 20 starts and 22 games, he hurled for 107.1 innings, posting a 4.95 ERA and a 1.407 WHIP with a low 1.91 k/bb ratio. Holland has never been the most efficient of starting pitchers, but before his injury problems he had some very good seasons for the Rangers.
This doesn’t put Holland in a position with a whole lot of leverage. He’s open to a one-year deal, and prefers a team with a guaranteed starting spot, but if it means he’ll have to fight for one, he’ll do it. Things have taken a turn in that kind of direction for him, and he has no choice but to be flexible, while waiting for other offers to come in. The market isn’t drowning in quality starting pitchers, which works in Holland’s advantage.
The Pirates aren’t just a good option due to their reputation of helping “broken pitchers” fix their careers, and then sending them off to make a lot more money somewhere else. With a very young pitching core (Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, Drew Hutchinson, Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow), there’s a big need for some veteran presence among the pitchers, and a left-handed one isn’t a bad thing to have either.
The Pirates aren’t planning on going full rebuild or tanking next season despite the disappointing 2016 finish, presenting a setback after consecutive postseason appearances. Holland doesn’t give them a particular edge, but it bolsters their rotation in ways they don’t have right now, and maybe the best part is that it falls into their cheap upgrade approach. The Rangers declined his $11.5 million team option in 2017, paying him a $1.5 million buyout, which could help make Holland’s demands a bit more modest, helpful to a team like the Pirates.