Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Derek Holland’s Trade Value

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - AUGUST 03: Derek Holland #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game at Target Field on August 3, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - AUGUST 03: Derek Holland #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game at Target Field on August 3, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Derek Holland has steadily increased his trade value over his first two starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Very soon, he might be a hot commodity come the trade deadline.

Despite not even playing a 15th game of the regular season, the 2020 MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching. The deadline for this year is August 31st, and we’ve already seen some players increase their trade value. The main one being the Pittsburgh Pirates left handed starter Derek Holland.

Holland was signed on a minor league deal this winter after struggling in 2019. While there were a few questions about him throughout pre-season, Holland has since put those to rest. In his first start with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Holland went 5.2 innings allowing just two hits, three walks, and struck out five. Sadly for him, one of those two hits was a home run by the newest Pirate killer, Keston Hiura. Still, an overall impressive performance considering that he kept Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and another big time Pirate killer in Ryan Braun from scoring for 5 innings.

Holland had his second start of the season Monday night and started the game off strong. Through his first 5 innings against the Twins, Holland allowed just two hits, struck out five batters and did not walk a batter. He only went to a three-ball count twice, that being against sluggers Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano, so understandably, guys you would want to pitch around a bit. But in both instances, he got Sano to pop out and Cruz to line out.

Despite it saying he gave up 4 earned runs, only one was truly deserved. In the 6th inning, Holland walked Mitch Garver with one out, and advanced to second on a ground out to second base. With Garver on second, Cruz singled him in, and advanced to second on a poor throw by right fielder Guillermo Heredia. This would be the only truly deserved run of Holland’s night.

After walking Sano with two outs, Max Kepler doubled over the inexperienced Cole Tucker’s head on a ball that likely would have been caught had it been someone like Jarrod Dyson in center. That was it for Holland, so with a man on base, the Pittsburgh Pirates, for some reason beyond me, turned to Miguel Del Pozo who walked the bases loaded, and let the last run of Holland’s night score on a wild pitch.

While Holland might have a 4.76 ERA, it realistically should look like a 2.38 ERA. Regardless of what his ERA is or should be, teams aren’t going to trade for a player based on ERA, and ERA alone if at all. Teams will recognize that the defense behind Holland struggled, and was the reason his ERA rose above 4.

After all, his x-stats like xERA (3.39), xBA (.210) and xSLG (.338) all represent a solid pitcher according to Baseball Savant. Plus, Holland has shown some pretty good movement with his sinker, as it currently sits with the most horizontal movement of his career and has gotten opponents to make soft contact 32.1% of the time.

If Holland keeps pitching like he has, he could be a very hot commodity at the deadline. A team that thinks they can contend in a season like this will be in the market for a solid left handed starter. So far, the Atlanta Braves might be a front runner for a pitcher on a hot streak. They just lost their staff ace, Mike Soroaka, to a torn Achilles leaving Max Fried as their only truly reliable starter. After both Homer Bailey and Rich Hill of the Twins were placed on the 10-day injured list recently, they could also be a potential trade partner for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Houston Astros losing Justin Verlander for a notable amount of time, Lance McCullers Jr. and Zack Greinke struggling, they could also be a destination for the left-hander.

But the question is, what could the Pittsburgh Pirates get in exchange for Holland? It’s really hard to pinpoint how much a team will value trade pieces during a season like this. Usually, you can gauge interest way ahead of time, and see what the market looks like. That’s not really the case here. If Holland keeps pitching like he has, then I could see the Pirates actually getting back a prospect worth talking about. Maybe something similar to the Jordan Lyles trade.

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Getting back anything noteworthy for Holland in this season would be a win in my book. So far, he’s pitched pretty good. If any team is willing to give up something like a top 30 to 50 organizational prospect, then the Pirates should capitalize.

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