Derek Holland Signs With the White Sox

One of the starting pitching targets most commonly linked to the Pirates this off-season was Derek Holland. The lefty ended up agreeing to a deal today with the Chicago White Sox for one year and $6 M, with $1 M in performance bonuses.

The Pirates had been linked to Holland often, and met with his representatives last week at the winter meetings. My thought on Holland was that he’d be fine as a gamble for a second starting pitching option, but that he shouldn’t be their primary target. He had a 4.3 fWAR in 2013, but injuries have derailed his career, and he now seems like a back of the rotation starter at best. I don’t know if I’d say it’s impossible for him to bounce back, but he’s seen his velocity drop 2 MPH since that 2013 season, and his K/9 rate drop from 7.99 to 5.62. So it doesn’t seem like he’s a strong candidate for a bounce back.

This does raise the question about who the Pirates will sign for their rotation. They’ve still been connected to Ivan Nova, and his market has been pretty quiet so far. There’s also the option of a trade, with the Pirates being connected again to the Rays for Jake Odorizzi. Losing out on Holland isn’t a bad thing, but is a reminder that the Pirates are still searching for a rotation upgrade.

  • Tim is there even a chance the Pirates would sign Nova and trade for a starter of Odorizzi caliber? The two combined with Cole, Taillon and Kuhl would slot for a fairly strong rotation really. My only issue would be our rotation not having a single lefty.

  • Ok. It’s not a huge issue losing out on Holland bc he’s just not that good. But at 6M? Does NH not remember last year and how badly we need pitching? Wtf?

    • We need pitchers who are better than Glasnow, Hutchison and Brault. Holland had averaged an ERA of 4.93 and a fip of 4.94 over the last two years.
      It would have been similar to adding Vogelsong last year…

  • Keep in mind, the Pirates did have to compete against one other MLB team so it’s not surprising that they failed to sign him.

  • Thank God

  • There will be no off-season acquisitions and you will toe the company line yinzers.
    Your pal, Robert Nutting.

    • The yinzer company line is your sentiment that “Robert is cheap” not support for a winning ball club and top sports franchise.

  • Kudos to the Rays owner Stuart Sternberg for not voting for the CBA. Why is he alone?

    • It’s mind-boggling

    • Can’t believe other small market teams owners didn’t do same

    • The one, main thing that every Pirate fan should be angry at Nutting and Coonelly for – is not finding a way to level the playing field. That is the one thing that would have the biggest impact on the Pirates ability to consistently compete.

    • Why do the Rays play in a joke of a stadium?
      When will the owners and players stop asking taxpayer to build them new stadiums and fund them from their Billions?

    • Because they are the only ones not happy with the deal. Nutting is happy. He is not mandated to spend a certain amount of money. Most caps come with floors and Nutting (any many other owners) is not interested in that. Its good for his business but not so good for the fan base. The Pirates will do what they have been doing. Try to keep payroll in check while being somewhat competitive occasionally.

      • Years ago when the cap was discussed the problem was getting the owners to agree to revenue sharing. They never got serious with revenue sharing, so the % of revenue given to players salaries never got discussed. The third step in the process is figuring out the floor and ceiling of the cap. In baseball the % difference between the lowest and highest payrolls is like 200%. In football the difference is less than 20%. No way the Rays can compete with the Dodgers.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 14, 2016 4:08 pm

    Lets take a look at what a potential rotation would be for the Pirates, if they did NOT sign Nova and did not sign or trade for another veteran starter….

    – Taillon
    – Cole
    – Kuhl

    I think these three are pretty much set, barring any unforeseen injuries or circumstances…

    Beyond these three, I would consider the favorites for the other two spots to be:

    – Glasnow
    – Brault

    Glasnow has the stuff and pedigree – he just needs to be healthy and improve his consistency and command. I predict he will be the #1 or #2 starter, based on performance if not actually designated as such, by the end of the 2017 season. Brault is the prototypical “savvy and crafty” lefthander – and obviously the only lefthander in the above rotation.

    If Cole bounces back, is healthy, and matures professionally, he and Taillon will be battling to be the #1 at the start of the season – that would make a pretty nice top of the rotation. Kuhl is a VERY solid #3, if he performs as he did last season. Brault would be a very good #5, and even an acceptable #4 if he continues to improve. Glasnow is the obvious wild card – if he becomes what everyone thinks he is capable of becoming, this could be a VERY, VERY strong rotation – as good as the Mets, Nats, Cubs, etc. He is the key.

    Guys like Sadler, Cumpton, Kingham, Duncan, Hutchison, and Williams all have various levels of potential – some more, some less – and a couple of them could be viable starting pitchers as well. 1-2 of them could be bullpen arms – i think Cumpton in particular would be a good fit. Holmes will soon be knocking on the door as well….

    So, with all these young arms – and they are not just young, a few of these guys are very highly regarded – I don’t know if it makes sense to go out and spend millions on a guy like Nova. I’m annoyed that the Pirates traded two decent prospects for what appears will be just a 2 month rental, but I am also not convinced that Nova will continue that same level of performance that he had in Pittsburgh. In fact, his numbers were already starting to regress as the season was coming to a close. His numbers in NY were consistently bad…so, I consider him a high risk to give $50-60 over a 3-4 year period or whatever he ultimately gets from someone. There aren’t any other decent free agent starters available, except for Tyson Ross who is coming off an injury. Assuming his price tag as lower than Nova and that he is healthy again, I would much rather prefer the Pirates sign him over Nova….if they are going to add.

    I guess what I am saying in a very long winded way is…unless the Pirates are blown away by a trade offer or Nova or Ross decide to sign at much lower numbers than projected, I would be tempted to stand pat, put faith in my young starters and pitching coach, and sink or swim with the kids.

    • I dunno about that. Unless he performs well in Spring Training, I don’t think Glasnow will start the year with the big club. I’d put Hutchinson ahead of both these guys. not saying he is better, just more likely to make opening day rotation. Unless he is awful in ST. With all the LHrs in the pen I think the Bucs are set up for an all RH starting staff.

      • I think Brault cracks the top 5 by default.

        Unless, of course, the Pirates obtain a righty or two from outside the organization. But, with the current roster…he makes the team.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 14, 2016 4:36 pm

        I hope you’re wrong about Hutchison, because I consider him the weakest on the list above…I would rather have a Cumpton, Kingham, or Sadler in the rotation. But, I have a feeling Glasnow is going to light it up in Spring Training and put enormous pressure on the Pirates to take him North in their rotation…

        • I hope you are right about Glasnow. Kingham is still recovering from TJ. Based upon yesterday’s article it sounds like he will be ready by mid-season the soonest. Can the Pirates try to squeeze another year out Glasnow? His service time is .066. Does that factor in?

        • I think the only pitchers ready to start on opening day (besides the big three) would be Hutchison, Glasnow, Brault, and Williams.
          To me, I think it is between Hutch, Glasnow, and Brault.

      • I don’t know…Glasnow spent so much time on the roster might as well use him to start the year…don’t really gain anything not using him and watching him go dominate AAA

      • If Hutchinson makes the starting 5, only Cole will have more ML experience. He gives up a hit an inning making his WHIP higher than you would like. Toronto gave him a lot of run support to make his w/l look better than he pitched. I think, because of the cost to obtain him, he should get a very long look.

        If the Pirates can’t compete with the big dogs for talent, then they have to use what they have. Why spend 10-12M on someone they may not be much better that Hutch. I was not a friend of trading two top prospects plus a starter for him, but we now have him, give him a shot.

    • I feel as though a rotation that only has ONE pitcher with a full season of pro ball under his belt is almost guaranteed to sink instead of swim simply because the rookies/prospects/kids dont have the ability to last a whole season AND finish strong for a potential playoff push. Taillon has never thrown 150 innings in a year, Kuhl tops out at 154, Glasnow at 135 and Brault at 155. Assuming no extra inning games, 162 times 9 is 1458 innings and those four at their individual season’s max to this point in their respective careers only reach 594 innings. Even if Cole gets to 200 that still leaves over 660 innings for the bullpen, not a great scenario.

    • Think Ross makes a ton of sense for this team.

  • Best offseason news to date

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 14, 2016 3:00 pm

    How the mighty have fallen…..

    Former Rays first round pick Richie Schaffer (3b) is now with his third organization – this time, the Phillies….he would have been a decent guy for the Pirates to pursue, if he was available to them….

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 14, 2016 2:59 pm

    Well, Brady Dragmire is back with the Pirates – saw signing announcement just a little while ago….23 year old ex Blue Jays prospect – throws hard….glad to see he is back, as he seemed like a guy with potential….

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 14, 2016 2:57 pm

    We dodged a bullet there – i thought the Pirates might sign Holland – I’m glad they didn’t.

  • Crossing my fingers for Nova but in this market teams might really overpay him. As long as we give him something around 10 mil aav as an offer I don’t care if he signs somewhere else for 15 mil aav that’s way out of our price range

    • 10 million will not get it done.

    • My sneaky under the radar signing to come soon. Trevor Cahill would be my choice. Solid starter early in career, dealt with injuries, came back in the pen and had a dominant run with the Cubs last year. He is young, and is selling himself as a starter this offseason. Some upside and worst case he moves to the pen. 2.74 ERA with over a K per inning. Good signing IMO

      • I agree Cahill would be a good player to sign. I read last year we made him a decent offer last offseason but he accepted the Cubs offer over the Pirates.

      • I’d also like to see the front office go after another member from the Cubs’ bullpen who’s trying to get back into a starting rotation, Travis Wood.

        • I considered Wood also before examining the numbers a little closer. While Wood dominated lefty’s [447ops against]. He was terrible against righty’s [865ops against] and I don’t know if that’s a rotation option

    • This is where I’m torn…

      The way the price of pitching is going, in some respects, I don’t even know how to define ‘overpay’.

      Skyrocketing salaries for pitching might be the next niche that a small market team like the Pirates exploit. Let’s say the Pirates sign Nova for 4/50…$12.5M is probably an overpay for him next season, but…if he pans out…who much value will a 2/25 contract have for a good #3 worth for the 2019-2020 seasons?

      I look at Happ and Hill. Happ was considered an overpay at 3/36 last season. This off season Rich Hill, a better pitcher but almost three years older and with a much longer injury history (which now makes them equivalent, in my opinion), signs for 3/48 and no one blinks. Yes, they were different FA classes and Happ’s was more depressed, but that far from makes up for the pay gap.

      So…I’m leaning toward the idea that, instead of trying to find the lightning-in-a-bottle one-year-wonder reclamation project, the next wave of value might come from getting reclamation type pitchers signed to long-term overpay deals and, if they pan out, having surplus value due to salary inflation.

    • 10 million is obnoxious for nova. I’m sorry, it is. I wouldn’t pay that if it was enough.

    • If he was going to get overpaid, honestly, I think it would have happened already.

  • i doubt they do much if anything at all..financial flexibility be damned

  • You summed it up nicely at the end Tim, not bummed about missing on Holland but more concerned that Pirates haven’t signed anyone yet.

  • Yes, no loss there.

  • Smart move by him, he should be able to crack that rotation. I said before, I think Locke was better option and I’m not a big fan of Locke.

  • Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

  • michael schalke
    December 14, 2016 1:29 pm

    You would hope that they can do better than Holland. Chisox probably ship him out at the trade deadline.

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