Rangers left-hander Derek Holland is officially a free agent after the club declined to pick up his contract option Monday evening.
The club paid a $1.5 million buyout instead of Holland’s $11 million option. The Rangers top priority this off-season is starting pitching, and they believe freeing up money will help land them another starter.
As expected, the Rangers extended the $17.2 million qualifying offer to center fielder Ian Desmond. Desmond is likely to test the free agent market, seeking a multi-year deal.
Holland has been beset with injuries since he went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts in 2013, but made only 35 starts the past three seasons. He made 22 appearances (20 starts) with a 4.95 ERA in 2016 and was left off the postseason roster.
Knowing I am not going to wear the Rangers uniform is the hardest part. This is the only place I have ever been. I had great teammates and they helped get me to where I am. It’s a class organization.
Free agent Derek Holland
“Knowing I am not going to wear the Rangers uniform is the hardest part,” Holland told mlb.com. “This is the only place I have ever been. I had great teammates and they helped get me to where I am. They have been there through the good times and the bad. It’s a class organization, it was a great experience being with these guys. At the end of the day, I was proud to be in that uniform and play in front of these fans.”
Holland, who turned 30 on Oct. 9, thanked fans Monday afternoon via the social media site Instagram.
“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the greatest fans to me and welcoming not only me, but my family to the great state of Texas and making some of the greatest memories ever,” Holland wrote. “You the fans have been a class act and some of the greatest people. You supported me through the great times and the bad times ... I wish I could of done a lot more great things and am truly sorry for the way it finished for me here as a Ranger.”
Holland also said he hopes he hasn’t worn a Rangers’ uniform for the last time.
“There’s a chance. They still want to talk to me,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. This is my first time in free agency. It’s a different animal. I’ll see what lies ahead, see what presents itself and what’s out there.”
The Rangers, who failed to find a trade partner for Holland, are hoping to find another starting pitcher (or two) using the funds saved by declining his option.
Deals are already going down and personnel moves continue to shake out, altering the free agent market. The Chicago Cubs declined to pick up right-hander Jason Hammel’s option on Sunday, which makes him one of the more attractive free agent pitchers available.
“It’s not the greatest free agent market and I think that might lead to some more creativity and some different kind of deals,” Daniels said. “It’s too early to say at this point, but I would expect we’ll look at different ways we can go about it.”
Hammel, 34, was left off the Cubs’ playoff roster after he experienced elbow tightness late in the season. But he put together a solid year before the injury, finishing 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts (166 2/3 innings). He had a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts (170 2/3) innings for the Cubs in 2015.
Holland was 11-12 with a 4.93 ERA in 30 combined starts the past two seasons in which he battled injuries. He turned 30 last month.
The Rangers have valuable commodities that could help lure a starting pitcher via trade. Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar both still hold certain levels of cache as long-term major league producers.
“I think Joey is going to be a very good player, most likely for us,” Daniels said. “When that is, I don’t know. [He] probably needs more time unless there’s that big jump made like Ryan Rua made last year. Everyone is different. Some guys figure it out at 21 years old. Joey is 23 years old. He’s still very youthful.”
Knox not returning
Long time Fox Sports Southwest personality Jim Knox will not return to the Rangers’ telecast in 2017 after 15 seasons. Knox has built a large following for his fan interviews during and after games at Globe Life Park.
Knox announced the move on social media Monday. “I will miss you as well as working with some of the best folks in television,” Knox posted on Twitter. “Through the bad and good seasons I had a blast every step of the way and can honestly say DFW has the best fans.”
Banister a finalist
Rangers manager Jeff Banister, along with the Indians’ Terry Francona and the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, was named one of three finalists for the Baseball Writers Association of America AL Manager of the Year award. The winner will be announced Nov. 15 on MLB Network.