© Kelley L Cox | 2019 Apr 9
There were few bright spots for the San Francisco Giants during the 2018 season, but Derek Holland’s bounce-back was certainly one of them.
Holland had spent his previous nine MLB seasons with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, and during those seasons he compiled a 69-64 record with an ERA of 4.57 in 1,120 innings. He had shown some promise but only had three seasons with an ERA under 4.00, and in one of those seasons he only pitched in five games. He came to the Giants and was a revelation, going 7-9 with a 3.57 ERA in 171.1 innings. He was the team’s most consistent starting pitcher.
Holland was re-signed in the offseason with hopes that he could build on last season’s success, but ultimately he couldn’t replicate that performance. He was moved to the bullpen after an abysmal start and found some success there, but wound up getting designated for assignment on Sunday. He was 2-4 with an ERA of 5.90 in 68.2 innings for the Giants this year.
Andrew Baggarly, a San Francisco Giants beat writer for The Athletic stopped by the Murph & Mac show on Monday morning to discuss the relatively surprising move.
“That one really caught me off-guard, and like I said, I think that the options had something to do with that,” Baggarly said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that he was outspoken, questioning management earlier this season. He might have been in the doghouse somewhat but I don’t think he was really causing any trouble, but all those thoughts fly into your head when you hear that he was designated.”
Holland did call out the front office during the team’s turbulent start to the season and said: “To be honest, I have no idea what they’re doing. And I don’t mean that by Boch and them, it’s more for the front office. We keep changing things. I get a fake injury, so I’m not happy about that. But at the end of the day, I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do.”
Baggarly continued: “When we asked Farhan for his explanation he basically said, ‘Look, we have a lefty closer in Will Smith. We have a lefty set-up man in Tony Watson. We have a bullpen that’s really set up to be an inning-by-inning bullpen and not a specialized-matchup bullpen, this isn’t Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo.’
“But the fact that Holland has really been nails against lefties, I think they have under a .500 OPS against him this year, that suggests to him that there is going to be interest in Holland out there and that he probably can swing a trade for him. I’d imagine the Giants are gonna have to eat all the money of the probably $3 million or so he’s got left coming to him, because otherwise a team could just pick him up on waivers if there’s no deal.”
Though his time with the Giants has now come to an end, Baggarly said he thinks Holland will land on his feet with another team.
“We’ll see if they can find a good spot for Derek Holland and maybe it’ll be in a contending bullpen where he can become a matchup lefty because it looks like he still has some value there,” Baggarly said. “That’s the one thing that surprised me. The Giants seldom will give up on someone who still has some value, but they wanted to bring up Zach Green, they knew that these position players were getting pretty exhausted given the schedule and the extra-inning games, and last week’s double-header at Colorado as everyone’s still kinda catching up from that. It became a matter of who had options and who didn’t, it was a surprising move to me, and there’s gotta be a little bit more to it that we don’t know but that was the official explanation.”
Listen to the full interview with Andrew Baggarly below. To hear him discuss Derek Holland, start from 12:00.