After this morning, Rangers left-hander Derek Holland will no longer have to go Dutch. The 25-year-old will see his arbitration and first free-agency years bought out for approximately $30 million dollars over five years (with club options for 2017 and 2018) according to Dallas Morning News writer Evan Grant.
Holland is a great example of the rewards a team can reap when it is patient with a young pitcher. A result of the now discarded draft-and-follow process, the Ohio native works in the low-to-mid 90s and splits his offspeed offerings between a slider and curve. He took a jump up in velocity after signing, but as with many tyro southpaws, it took some time for him to develop the consistency to exploit it. To get to this level in his career, the Rangers had to wait through parts of four minor league seasons, an 8-13, 6.12 ERA rookie year and an 80-day bout with rotator cuff inflammation in 2010.
They were rewarded with a great leap forward in the second half last year. Holland finished the season’s opening act with a 4.68 ERA, but went 10-1 with a 2.77 ERA in his final 15 starts. He finished with some excellent postseason work, including 8.1 innings of two-hit, shutout pitching against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. Patience isn’t always rewarded in baseball, but in this case the Rangers knew what they were looking at and their faith in Holland paid off.
Any long-term contract given to a pitcher is a risk, particularly one who has not yet had the seemingly inevitable encounter with Tommy John surgery, but Holland is the real deal—note his 3.39 ERA away from offense-inflating Arlington last year, and if the reported figures are correct, $6 million a year is less than Jason Marquis got from the Nationals last year. If Holland goes through 2012 the same way he finished 2011, the Rangers will have locked up an ace for less than ace dollars.
Finally, I got through this entire post without mentioning Holland’s mustache, so… oops.
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