Rangers sign Derek Holland to five-year, $28 million deal

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Derek Holland and the Rangers have agreed to a five-year, $28 million contract that includes team options for 2017 and 2018, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Holland wasn’t even arbitration eligible yet and Texas had him under team control through 2015 already, so the five-year contract cancels out his previous minimum-salaried deal for 2012, pre-pays for all three arbitration seasons, and buys out his first season of free agency while giving the Rangers options on his second and third free agent years.

Holland emerged as a top prospect after being a 25th-round pick in 2006 and established himself as one of the league’s best left-handed starters last year at age 24, throwing 198 innings with a 3.95 ERA and 162/67 K/BB ratio while calling an extreme hitters’ ballpark home.

Early last year Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz both signed five-year, $30 million contracts while having similar service time to Holland. He has just one full season in the rotation and currently sports a modest 4.73 career ERA thanks to an ugly debut as a 22-year-old in 2009, but if he stays healthy the Rangers will be plenty happy with the investment to control Holland through age 31. And now Holland is set for life, so he can focus solely on pitching and mustache growing.

UPDATE: According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas the option years are worth $11 million in 2017 and $11.5 million in 2018, so the total value of the contract could rise over $50 million for seven seasons.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.