Today, the Texas Rangers and Derek Holland agreed to terms on a 5-year, $28.5 million extension that also includes two team options for 2017 ($11 million) and 2018 ($11.5 million). You can get down to the brass tax with stories from Fox Sports Southwest, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, ESPN Dallas, and the Dallas Morning News. What I am more interested in is what this extension signals about the Texas Rangers organization as a whole.
Success from within
Holland has been a Texas Ranger his entire professional career. Selected in 2006 in the first-year player draft, in the 25th round, with the 748th pick, Derek Holland did not enter the Rangers system as a blue-chip prospect out of Wallace State-Hanceville Community College. He did not even enter the Rangers system until a full year after being drafted, as he was a draft-and-follow pick (a system that has since been sunset). The Rangers have stuck with him all along the way, even though his name has come up often in trade rumors, in 2009 as a candidate to be moved for Roy Halladay, and even in 2011 as a possible piece to be sent to San Diego for Heath Bell. Believing in what they had, the Rangers did not seek to discover if the grass was truly greener on the other side of the fence.
Talent at every level
Holland’s success and the resulting contract extension signed today are a testimony to the talent of scouts in the Rangers organization like Rick Schroeder and Jeff Wood, who inked Holland to a $200,000 signing bonus for his first deal. It is also a tribute to Keith Comstock, Danny Clark and Terry Clark, minor league pitching instructors who assisted Holland in his rapid ascent through the Texas farm system. Each of those three former coaches were reportedly on hand for the announcement of Holland’s extension today. This extension is also, of course a culmination of the work put in by Mike Maddux, Mark Connor, and Ron Washington at the major league level, helping an immature Holland with only 287 minor league innings develop into a MLB caliber starter.
Rewarding the right things
A common theme was found laced in the comments of both GM Jon Daniels and team president and CEO Nolan Ryan regarding the reason for locking Holland up long term. Said Daniels:
Derek has done a tremendous job of putting the work in where he became a part of that core. His work ethic, his conditioning, really jumped him to the head of the class.
The exciting part of this signing is that Derek represents what we try to do in this organization and that’s sign and develop kids that come up and can have an impact on a major league ball club. He represents that. As an organization, we feel really strong about that.
In Holland, the Rangers don’t just see a young, talented, left-handed pitcher who posted career bests of 16 wins and a 3.95 ERA in 2011, including a 9-1 record and 3.06 ERA in the second half. They also see a player who understands the effort that is necessary to being successful as a major league pitcher.
Setting up the future
The Rangers now have two members of their starting rotation locked up as young, talented, cost efficient, high ceiling individuals in Holland and Yu Darvish. Holland, at age 25, could be a member of the Rangers for the next 7 years for a grand total of $51 million (if both options are exercised). Darvish, also 25, is signed for the next 6 years for a deal worth $60 million. If either or both of these players reach their potential, the Rangers have established key pieces to the start of one of the top rotations in baseball for several years to come.
This contract extension sends a message to Derek Holland, but also to Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Neil Ramirez, the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, and Houston Astros. The Rangers have once again re-affirmed their core values on which this organization will be run. That message is loud and clear: the Rangers aim to be smarter and work harder, and will do so in a way that provides a window of sustained success for many years to come.