The Minnesota Twins have had reported interest in plenty of starting pitchers so far this offseason, and there are plenty of options available via free agency and trades. It’s unlikely they will get into a significant bidding war with other teams, but general manager Terry Ryan has suggested that virtually no player is off limits in terms of trades.
The Texas Rangers have been mentioned as a potential destination for Zack Greinke, who is considered the top free agent starting pitcher this year, and they could make one of their incumbent starters available via trade if they sign Greinke or another starter. Left-hander Derek Holland has been the name mentioned most as a trade candidate among the Rangers’ current starters, with recent news suggesting the Twins have reached out to show interest in him. Is Holland a good fit for the Twins?
Holland went 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA over 175.1 innings for Texas last season as he made 29 appearances (27 starts). He missed some time with a shoulder injury, but finished the season strongly by allowing three earned runs or less in seven of his last eight starts and going at least six innings in seven of those outings as well.
Holland had a very good 2011 season, going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA over 32 starts (198 innings) along with four complete game shutouts. That prompted the Rangers to sign him to a five-year, $28.5 million contract extension with team options for 2017 and 2018 just prior to last season.
Given that financial investment, Texas is likely to ask for a lot in return for Holland and he could become a part of a bigger trade as the Winter Meetings wind down and the Rangers look to possibly make a significant move. That high asking price may make the Twins hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade, and they simply may not have enough pieces that interest the Rangers.
In four seasons with the Rangers, Holland has a 39-29 career record with a 4.71 ERA over 108 appearances (90 starts) along with solid peripheral numbers (7.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9). He allowed 32 home runs (fifth-most in the American League) in 2012, but the mix of allowing more fly balls (40.1 percent in 2012, 33.6 in 2011) and seeing more fly balls clear the fence (15.2 percent in 2012, up from 11.0 in 2011) last season was a big factor. Pitching home games at the hitter-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark at Arlington also certainly played a role, so simply moving to a more pitcher-friendly home stadium along with some correction in luck should equal improvement in 2013 and beyond.
Holland is not a top-shelf ace starting pitcher at this stage of his career, but at age 26 he still has a chance to reach a higher level and 2011 showed his potential if nothing else. The Twins need to add pitchers with upside at all levels of the organization, and Holland has the added benefit of having major league experience as well as some success. I would like to see Ryan get fairly aggressive in trade talks with the Rangers regarding Holland, and he should not be afraid to part with a top prospect to get a deal done.