Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Derek Holland

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Derek Holland #45 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on September 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Derek Holland #45 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on September 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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After being connected to veteran lefty Derek Holland last offseason, could he be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates again this offseason?

The lone starting pitcher the Pittsburgh Pirates added last offseason came via trade. That starting pitcher was Joe Musgrove who was acquired from the Houston Astros as part of the Gerrit Cole trade. However, throughout the offseason, the team was connected to multiple starting pitchers.

One of these pitchers was veteran lefty Derek Holland. Holland would go on to sign a 1-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, and, surprisingly, had a strong season for the Giants. Coming off a strong 2018 campaign, could Holland be a free agent target for Neal Huntington company again this offseason?

Last season Holland made 30 starts for the Giants while pitching in a total of 36 games. In 171 1/3 innings pitched he owned a 23.3% strikeout rate, a 9.2% walk rate, and he averaged 1.00 HR/9. All of this amounted in Holland owning a 3.57 ERA and a 3.87 FIP.

Holland’s 30 starts and 171 1/3 innings pitched were both his highest totals since 2013, while his ERA and FIP were the lowest they have been since the same season. His 2.0 fWAR was also his highest since 2013, and his strikeout rate was a new career high.

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Entering the 2019 season the Pirates’ starting rotation appears to be set. Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, Ivan Nova, and the aforementioned Musgrove all return after each one of them made at least 19 starts in 2018. However, it would still behoove the Pirates to pursue a pitcher such as Holland.

First off, you can never have too much pitching. Second, the Pirate rotation does not have any left-handed pitchers. This is something that Huntington would like to address this offseason, and Holland can fill that void. Finally, by adding someone such as Holland the Pirates can then look to trade Nova.

Moving Nova could help fill the team’s needs at shortstop and in the bullpen by either landing a player in the trade that fills either of these holes, or by freeing up money that can then be put toward these positions. Nova is slated to make $9.1 million in 2019, while this is not a huge amount it is enough to add needed left-handed relief help or a shortstop such as Jose Iglesias.

All of these reasons could make Holland a fit for the Pirates this offseason. If the team does look to add to their starting rotation via free agency, Holland is a name worth monitoring.

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