12:27pm: Giants GM Bobby Evans confirmed the deal to reporters, adding that Holland has already passed his physical (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). Holland will be given a chance to earn a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen.
The deal includes a $1.5MM potential base salary with as much as $2.5MM in possible incentives, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).
11:47am: The Giants are in agreement with left-hander Derek Holland on a minor league contract, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Presumably, he’ll compete for a roster spot in big league camp this spring.
Holland, 31, spent the bulk of the 2017 season with the White Sox, getting off to a hot start but fading as the season wore on before ultimately being released. The longtime Rangers lefty 2.37 ERA with a 52-to-24 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings through the first two months of the 2017 season, looking the part of a bargain for the ChiSox at the time.
ERA alternatives like xFIP (4.95) and SIERA (4.77) never fully bought into that success, though, and Holland’s production cratered in the months to come as his control worsened. Over his final 74 1/3 innings, he allowed 77 runs on 105 hits and 51 walks, causing his season ERA to balloon from 2.37 to 6.20.
Holland at one point looked like a promising young building block in Texas, pitching to a 3.83 ERA and a 3.89 FIP over 623 1/3 innings from 2011-14. Knee surgery cut short his 2014 season, though, and his 2015 and 2016 seasons were marred by shoulder injuries. The 93-94 miles per hour that Holland averaged on his fastball during those peak young seasons was replaced in 2017 by a more pedestrian average of 91.1 mph.
It’s not entirely clear how the Giants plan to use Holland, though their rotation has no shortage of uncertainty. Beyond Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija (each of whom will be looking to rebound in 2018, to varying degrees), the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are currently set to be filled by lefty Ty Blach and righty Chris Stratton. Blach had baseball’s lowest K/9 and K% marks in 2017, and his 6.2 percent swinging-strike rate was the game’s second-lowest. Stratton, meanwhile, is entering his age-27 season and has just 68 2/3 innings to his credit in the Majors, during which time he’s averaged 7.5 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9 with below-average ground-ball tendencies.
San Francisco could also look at utilizing Holland in a bullpen role, even though he has never spent much time as a reliever. Lefties have batted just .246/.310/.349 against him in his career, and while those splits are hardly dominating, he could yet find some improvement if his velocity ticks up when pitching in shorter stints.