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.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.