Giants

Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Over the final weeks of the regular season, Derek Holland made no secret of the fact he wanted to return to the Giants. He was willing to wait out a massive shakeup in the front office, one that never changed the way the organization felt about the left-hander, and on Monday morning the two sides made it official. 

Holland signed a one-year, $7 million deal with a club option for a second year. After coming in as a non-roster invitee last winter and leading the Giants in innings on a $2 million contract, he got a healthy raise. Holland is due $6.5 million in 2020 if the Giants pick up the option, with escalators that could guarantee him $8.5 million in that second season and $15.5 million over two years. 

The decision was a no-brainer for both sides. The Giants need the starting depth and got Holland at a solid price given some of the other short-term deals -- Matt Harvey for $11 million, for one -- given out to veterans this offseason. Holland, 32, gets to come back to a team that gave him new life after his career took a sharp downward turn in Chicago. 

"It was an easy decision to come back," Holland said. "Basically I looked at it as resurrecting my career."

Holland credited pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Matt Herges for helping him find tweaks that turned him into one of the better left-handed starters in the National League. He led the Giants with 171 1/3 innings and 169 strikeouts, good for 15th in the NL. Holland had a 3.57 ERA overall and lowered that to 2.83 in the second half, which jumped off the page for Farhan Zaidi, who took over the front office in November.

 

"Coming into the organization and having faced Derek (with the Dodgers) and knowing what type of pitcher he is, it was really encouraging to see that he made those 30 starts but also got better and stronger as the season went on," Zaidi said. "That's always an encouraging sign."

The two sides kept in touch throughout the offseason, and while Holland found interest from others -- most notably the Rangers, his first team -- the Giants were the frontrunner all along. When Texas dropped off after the holidays, the two sides quickly struck a deal. 

Zaidi spoke to holdovers throughout the organization and appreciated that Holland was so willing to go move to the bullpen for a brief stretch last summer. He noted the value in that, comparing Holland to Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling, two right-handers who bounced back and forth for the Dodgers. But for now, Holland is a solid mid-rotation starter for the Giants, lining up somewhere among Madison Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Jeff Samardzija, who is said to be doing well as he starts a throwing program following shoulder issues. 

The deal, first reported by The Athletic, puts Holland in the rotation. But the Giants know that they've added a pitcher who allows them to be more versatile.

"I just think that shows a level of unselfishness and putting the team first," Zaidi said of Holland moving back and forth. "As much as anything, I was really impressed to hear how anxious and eager he was to help the team out in any way he could."

Holland provided more than innings last season. He was popular in the clubhouse and made an Alhambra water jug a staple of walk-off celebrations. Holland said he may find a fresh celebration this year. Regardless, he's happy he'll be doing it at Oracle Park. 

"Obviously," Holland said, "my heart was set to come back to San Francisco."