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Oakland A’s 2018 Trade Target: Derek Holland

This year’s trade target series kicks off with a veteran lefty that was just bumped out of the rotation across the bay.

Toronto Blue Jays v Chicago White Sox
Using this image because I am not about to let a Gnats uniform onto the front page.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2018 Trade Target series! Throughout the month, we will be covering targets we see as fits for the A’s to acquire. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Trade Deadline Primer here. Today, we’ll look at San Francisco Giants lefty Derek Holland. First, I’ll look into what Holland brings to the table, and then what he might cost in a trade.

The Player

Derek Holland was drafted in the 25th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft by the Texas Rangers. He made his Major League debut in 2009 and remained with the Rangers through 2016. In 179 games with the Rangers (158 starts), Holland tallied 985 innings of a 4.35 ERA (4.25 FIP). He posted a 7.22 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, and 1.21 HR/9. Despite pitching most of his games in a hitter-friendly park in Arlington, he was more than serviceable as a back-end starter, especially thanks to his good control.

In 2017, that all went away. He signed a one year deal with the Chicago White Sox and actually had a pretty solid start to the season. However, as soon as June rolled around, everything collapsed. For the season, he posted a career-worst 6.20 ERA (6.45 FIP) due to a 6.93 K/9 and a horrid 5.00 BB/9 (the latter also a career-worst).

This led him to the Giants in 2018 on a minor league deal. A strong spring and preaseason injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija opened up a spot in the rotation for Holland, and since he’s looked more or less like his old self. He posted a 4.36 ERA (4.28 FIP) in 17 starts with a solid 8.42 K/9 and 3.76 BB/9. He was just bumped to the bullpen as Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto returned to the Giants’ rotation and has since made one appearance in relief.

Holland has an extensive injury history but has not hit the disabled list since mid-2016. His fastball sat around 93-94 MPH in his prime, and the 31-year-old still has most of that velocity, sitting more around 91-92 MPH this season. He throws a fastball and a sinker, and uses his curveball and slider as his main secondary pitches, along with the occasional changeup. His slider and sinker have been especially effective this season. His main struggles have come in his third time through the batting order, when he has posted a 4.86 ERA (4.79).

While Holland is nowhere near an ace, he obviously still has something left in the tank and would be an upgrade over what the A’s currently have in their rotation. He could be especially effective if his command returns to where it was before 2017 and he was limited to only twice through the order per game. I would expect him to be a reliable veteran presence at the back end of the rotation.


Holland, signed to a minor league deal this past winter, will be a free agent after the season. He has been bumped out of the Giants’ rotation and into a bullpen that already features two good lefties in Will Smith and Tony Watson. Passed on the depth chart by rookies Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez, and with Tyler Beede and Chris Stratton providing further rotation depth, he isn’t a necessity for San Francisco.

This is to say he shouldn’t cost much to acquire. Last season, a half season of Jeremy Hellickson cost the Baltimore Orioles veteran outfielder Hyun-soo Kim, lefty Garrett Cleavinger and some international bonus pool money. Cleavinger was a somewhat interesting young pitcher with command issues and Kim was nothing more than a throw-in, but Hellickson was also having a worse season than Holland currently is.

A more comparable deal would be the one that sent young outfielder Teoscar Hernandez and old outfielder Nori Aoki from the Houston Astros to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for half a season of lefty Francisco Liriano. Hernandez had been a bit neglected as a prospect in a deep Astros system but was never too highly regarded, making his Major League mini-breakout fairly unexpected. Like Kim in the Baltimore deal, Aoki was mostly a throw-in.

Going off of these two deals, I’d estimate Holland to cost the A’s a fringe young outfielder such as Ramon Laureano, B.J. Boyd, or Tyler Ramirez. If the A’s were to pull a little closer to the Mariners by the deadline, I’d be happy paying that kind of price for a rental, but if not much changes and the A’s aren’t really in the race then I’d probably decline.


Would you trade one of the three young outfielders listed above for Derek Holland?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    (123 votes)
  • 52%
    (306 votes)
  • 26%
    Depends heavily on the A’s record at the deadline
    (156 votes)
585 votes total Vote Now