The San Francisco Giants have traded pitcher Derek Holland and cash considerations to the Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.
The odd transaction suggests that, as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said last week, there was interest in the versatile lefthander from multiple teams after he was designated for assignment five days ago.
Holland, signed this offseason to a one-year deal, was reluctant to move to the bullpen after going 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in his first seven starts, but once he settled in, he had flourished, pitching anywhere from one to three innings in any given outing.
He had not allowed an earned run in five appearances since July 2 with a 0.69 ERA in his last 10 outings before getting lit up by the Mets the day before he was DFA’d, allowing four runs on four hits in one inning of work in an 11-4 loss.
“His stuff ticked up, he got some big outs for us,” Zaidi said. “It was a little bit of a configuration issue. This year and last year, he was one of the best pitchers in the league against left-handed hitters, but he did have big splits. We tend to go more inning-to-inning than hitter-to-hitter with that bullpen. When you have that kind of strategy, it’s a little bit tougher to kind of have the specialists, which I think is kind of the ideal role for Derek.”
The Cubs, as demonstrated in their recent series against the Giants where San Francisco walked them off twice, are in need of bullpen help down the stretch. The National League Central frontrunners have the 10th bullpen ERA in the majors trailing far behind the Giants — who have the fifth-best bullpen ERA in baseball — and just behind Los Angeles Dodgers (ninth), who have noted middle relief issues this season.
Holland has a .471 opposing OPS against left-handers, while right handers have a 1.022 OPS against him on the season. With the recent move of left-handed Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen, Holland was seen as redundant.
Holland has $2.8 million left on his $7 million deal, which may wind up being paid by the Giants since the Cubs are over the luxury tax threshold, hence the cash considerations. In exchange, Chicago may be picking up the $500,000 buyout on Holland’s option for next season, though none of that is confirmed.