Yankees Offseason Trade Target: Derek Holland


The Texas Rangers have decided not to pick up Derek Holland’s 2017 option and are instead exploring trades for the lefty starter. Is he a fit for the New York Yankees rotation?

On Monday T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported that the Texas Rangers are not interested in picking up starting pitcher Derek Holland’s $11 million option for next season and have made it known he is available via trade. Any deal could come together quickly because decisions on player options must be in five days after the conclusion of the World Series. With the New York Yankees hurting for rotation depth next year, they seem likely to at least do their due diligence on Holland this week.

Based solely on his 2016 numbers, few teams would be lining up to acquire Holland. He pitched to a 4.95 ERA and 4.75 FIP in 107.1 IP (20 GS), striking out 14.9% of the batters he faced and walking 7.8%. He is extremely fly ball prone, keeping just 37.6% of his batted balls on the ground.

The only real positive takeaway from his season is that he was largely healthy after missing significant time the previous two years with knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to a combined 15 starts. Before those issues, Holland was pretty awesome in 2013, putting up a 3.42 ERA and 3.44 FIP in 213 IP (33 GS), striking out 21.2%, walking 7.7%, and keeping the ball on the ground 41.2% of the time.

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The upside of taking on Holland on a one year $11 million pact is he could return to something resembling his 2013 production, when he was worth 3.3 wins above replacement according to Baseball-Reference.

Texas doesn’t have a ton of leverage in trade talks since they’ve made it known they aren’t going to pick up his option. They either have to trade him or he’ll just become a free agent anyway and be available for just cash. Any team that wants to absorb the money and send a token prospect in return can probably land him. The question is whether he is worth the gamble.

The Yankees have a number of back-of-the-rotation type arms expected to compete for two open spots during spring training. Is Holland a clear upgrade over Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and/or Bryan Mitchell? The 2016 version probably isn’t, but the 2013 model sure would be. If Holland is finally healthy, he’s young enough that expecting him to approach his old form isn’t completely crazy.

If he’s basically just costing them money, Holland may be worth bringing on board as long as his medicals look OK. New York would just need to be willing to cut bait and eat the rest of his contract if things aren’t working out.

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Using their financial advantage to take these kinds of gambles would be a smart baseball move, although not necessarily a good business decision, which certainly wouldn’t appeal to frugal principal owner Hal Steinbrenner.