Veteran lefty Derek Holland is headed to the Red Sox, as Holland himself strongly hinted this afternoon on Twitter. MLBTR has confirmed that Holland will join the Red Sox on a minor league deal, although the team has yet to officially announce the move.
Holland has pitched in each of the past 13 MLB seasons, spending time with the Rangers, White Sox, Giants, Cubs, Pirates and Tigers. He is probably best known for his time in Texas from 2009 to 2016, appearing in 179 games, including 158 starts. He threw 985 innings with a 4.35 ERA, 18.9% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate.
A one-year, $6MM deal with the White Sox in 2017 didn’t go as planned, with Holland’s ERA shooting up to 6.20 over 135 innings. His 16.6% strikeout rate and 12% walk rate also didn’t inspire much confidence. However, he had a terrific bounceback in 2018 after signing a minor league deal with the Giants. He eventually made 30 starts and came out of the ’pen six times, throwing 171 1/3 innings with a 3.57 ERA, 23.2% strikeout rate and 9.2% walk rate.
That was enough for the Giants to bring him back for 2019 with a one-year deal that came with a $7MM guarantee. Holland’s pendulum swung back the other way, though, as his ERA went back up to 6.08. Despite still getting strikeouts at a healthy rate of 21.8%, his walk rate went back up to 12% on the year.
The past two years have seen Holland sign minor league deals with rebuilding clubs, then soaking up innings throughout the year, primarily out of the bullpen. Between his 2020 season with the Pirates and 2021 season with the Tigers, he logged 90 1/3 total innings, with a 5.88 ERA, 23.8% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate.
The Red Sox don’t have a strong need for southpaws in their bullpen, as they recently added Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm to a relief corps that already had Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez. However, the rotation has some uncertainty, as it was recently revealed that Chris Sale is going to be sidelined with a stress fracture in his rib. Nathan Eovaldi has been healthy the past couple of years, but has dealt with his share of injuries prior to that. Rich Hill threw 158 2/3 innings last year, the second-highest mark of his career, but has frequently been injured before and is now 42 years old. Michael Wacha hasn’t topped 130 innings since 2017. Holland, on the other hand, has only been on the MLB injured list three times in his career, and never for more than about a month, giving the Red Sox as a veteran safety net, should they need one over the course of the season.