Posted on November 1, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Teams in the market for a starting pitcher this winter may have another option as soon as the World Series ends and the offseason gets underway. Jon Heyman is reporting that the Texas Rangers don’t intend on picking up the $11.5 million option on lefty Derek Holland and are now looking into trading him. Heyman says that the Rangers have already spoken with several teams about trading for Holland, making a deal early in the offseason a distinct possibility.
The Rangers have to decide within five days of the World Series ending whether they will pick up Holland’s option or pay him a $1.5 million buyout, and so if they choose to trade him, they have to act fast. It appears that Texas is looking to trade Holland as a way to save money and allocate it someplace else, and so they may be willing to pick up some of his contract for next season or settle for receiving little in return in terms of prospects in order to make a trade happen.
In addition to his $11.5 million salary for next season, what may be motivating the Rangers to trade Holland is his lack of health in recent years. He missed two months this season with shoulder inflammation, limiting him to 20 starts and two relief appearances. However, he managed just 16 appearances in the previous two years combined. When he’s been healthy, Holland has been a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter, but his health has been a concern, making it difficult for the Rangers to justify picking up his option for next season.
Of course, despite his salary and injury risk, some teams may view Holland as a viable alternative to the other starting pitchers available on the free agent market this winter, especially if the Rangers are willing to take on some of his salary for next season. If Holland can stay healthy, he has some upside and would be a decent option to put on the mound every five days, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see him traded early in the offseason before the Rangers have a chance to decline his option and make him a free agent.
The Rangers, however, need to keep in mind that while trading Holland can free up salary to improve the team elsewhere, trading the lefty would have an impact on the depth in their rotation, especially since there is still uncertainty over whether the team will re-sign Colby Lewis, who is set for free agency. Texas will still have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish at the front of the rotation, but if Holland and Lewis are out of the picture, the Rangers would fill out their rotation with the likes of Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, and Yohander Mendez. Outside of Perez, that group still has much to prove, so the Rangers could certainly feel the loss of Holland and Lewis on the field next season.
At this point, it’s almost a certainty that Holland will pitch elsewhere in 2017. It’s just a matter of whether the Rangers will be able to work out a trade in time or if they will end up having to decline his option, making him a free agent. With Heyman reporting that several teams are interested, it would seem likely that he gets dealt, which is something to watch closely early in the upcoming offseason.