The San Francisco Giants have agreed to bring back left-handed starter Derek Holland on a one-year contract, the club confirmed on Monday.
The incentive-laden deal, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, could last as long as two years, and be worth up to $15.5 million.
Holland, whose antics and leadership of a young staff were vitally important in keeping morale up during a rough season which saw San Francisco lose 89 games, is widely liked in the clubhouse. Manager Bruce Bochy roundly praised Holland for his selflessness in heading to the bullpen for a brief stint to make room for Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija in the starting rotation.
When Samardzija and Johnny Cueto again went down with injuries, Holland stepped right back in. The 10-year veteran led the Giants in ERA (3.57), strikeouts (169), games started (30) and innings pitched (171 1/3). He was worth 2.1 WAR, behind only rookie sensation Dereck Rodriguez and Bumgarner (2.4).
Holland came to San Francisco on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training last February. After signing a five-year, $28.5 million extension with the Texas Rangers ahead of the 2012 season, Holland was beset by injuries. After posting a 3.26 ERA in 33 starts in 2013, he made just 30 more starts over the next three seasons, and signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. He posted the worst ERA of his career, a 6.20, in 26 starts, and was released with a month left in the regular season.
The 6-foot-2 southpaw’s resurgence with the Giants couldn’t make up for a depressed free agent market, though. So, he returns to San Francisco, a place he said late in the season that he’d be happy to re-sign anyway.
Holland’s relationships with Rodriguez and Samardzija — Holland wore a leprechaun costume to Sunday worship and in the clubhouse, after his Michigan Wolverines lost to Samardzija’s Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish — as well as the levity he provided in the clubhouse helped keep the club from spiraling during a challenging season. With the departure of Hunter Pence, and a club expected to once again be very young in 2019, Holland’s steady, lighthearted attitude could be a big help.
Rosenthal reported the deal to include a $6.5 million base salary for the 2019 season and a $6.5 million club option for 2020 (with a $500k buyout). The second year’s base salary would increase to $7 million if Holland makes 24 starts, $7.5 million if he makes 28 starts and $8.5 million if he makes 32 starts.
Holland’s addition puts the roster at 40, which means that all future moves by director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi would require other players to be dropped, unless San Francisco trades away members of the 40-man roster.