With reports that Texas is exploring trades for lefty Derek Holland, the New York Yankees can swoop in and pull off a terrific low-risk move.
Derek Holland, who has the fifth-most strikeouts among left-handed starters in the American League since 2009, has reportedly played his final game as a member of the Texas Rangers as his team option for 2017 will not be picked up.
Also in the report by Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Rangers are discussing a possible deal with multiple teams and need to trade him shortly after the World Series or else they’ll lose him to free agency.
Holland was selected in the 25th round of the 2006 amateur draft and immediately made an impact at the time of his promotion three years after as he would win 49 games within his first five years in the bigs — sixth-most among lefty starters in the AL.
Over the last two years, however, the lefty pitched in a mere 32 total games thanks to a subscapular strain in his right shoulder in 2015 and left shoulder inflammation last season. Overall in 2016, Holland maintained a mediocre 4.95 ERA over 107.1 innings of work with a 7-9 record to go hand-in-hand with a 1.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the lowest of his major league career.
Despite the recent decline, thanks to injuries, the Yankees could certainly use the work of an established southpaw in their rotation that’s cluttered with question marks.
Behind Masahiro Tanaka (third best ERA in AL), CC Sabathia (best season since 2012) and Michael Pineda (AL Leader in K/9), Joe Girardi’s staff has three unproven kids under 25-years old competing for two spots.
In 2016, one of those kids served up an 8.50 ERA as a starter (Luis Severino), one allowed 11 home runs in nine starts (Luis Cessa) and one had his season cut short due to an elbow injury (Chad Green).
One could also debate that Pineda — who is one of six players in MLB history to strikeout more than 200 but to maintain an ERA over 4.80 — is unproven as well, but New York needs to, and probably will, contemplate adding an arm into the crowded mix. Holland could be their guy.
If the 30-year old is unable to channel the version of him that tossed four shutouts in 2011, he’s nothing but a starter encased in red flags. Yet, his low-risk value is the type that Cashman would take for the possibility of delivering stability to his rotation.
Holland’s five-year, $28.5 million contract signed in 2012 features a $1.5 million buyout for 2017 and a $1 million buyout for 2018 which could easily punch his ticket out of the Bronx if he were to struggle or is needed to give up his rotation spot for a prospect like James Kaprielian or Justus Sheffield.
As to acquiring Holland, he could more than likely be brought in for left fielder Brett Gardner in a straight up swap if the Rangers would agree to take most of Gardner’s remaining $24 million. Plus, that fills Texas’ vacant left field position thanks to Carlos Gomez’s departure and helps improve their .306 on-base percentage out of the left field position during the second half (22nd in baseball).
It just makes sense for both sides. For the Yankees, they’re the ideal team to entertain the opportunity of wheeling in a starting pitcher for a one-year devotion with another available option if he were to light it up in 2017.
If not, that $1 million buyout exists. Looking at the free agent market, this very well may be the best option New York could pursue.