After his gem in the 2011 World Series I remember thinking to myself the light has finally come on for Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland.
I was right and wrong with that thought; right that the light had come on for Holland but wrong on exactly when.
Holland is a major reason why the Rangers even won the West for the second consecutive year finishing strong after some inconsistent performances earlier in the season.
The running thought with Holland was three starts would be dominant followed by one or two ugly starts where he was knocked out before the third inning.
It was a pattern Holland maintained until the final two and half months of the season when the young lefty finally showed he can be consistent and dominant, a stretch that culminated in one of the best pitching performances in World Series history when the Rangers badly needed to bounce back from a horrible Game Three the night before.
The Rangers have now rewarded Holland for proving himself with an absolutely fantastic contract extension that could make Holland a fixture in the Rangers rotation through the 2018 season if the Rangers pick up both option years turning a club friendly five year deal into an even better seven year pact.
The Rangers have become very very good at negotiating good value contracts, not going overboard to keep a player under contract but in fact signing them for precisely what they are worth when taking into account upside versus risk.
Paying attention to this Josh?
Major credit should be given to Derek Holland for accepting a contract that potentially buys out three of his early free agent years because he simply wanted to stay in Texas.
"I know I gave up that stuff, the three years, but to me it’s all about being in Texas and wearing that Texas uniform and going and getting some championships," Holland said.
Sadly this type of loyalty to an organization is unheard of in baseball these days making the Rangers resistance to dealing Holland for Roy Halladay in 2009 that much more important.
This contract is a win-win for both parties. Derek continues to grow in a place he loves to pitch and a community he has fully embraced.
The Rangers get a hard throwing lefty with ace; yeah I said it, ace potential under very favorable terms for the next five to seven years.
Considering his learning curve over the past three seasons, Holland could be the ace of the staff for the majority of this contract; yes that includes being the guy Washington turns to for a big start over Yu Darvish.
Speaking of which, the Rangers rotation suddenly looks to be a force on this team through 2016 at least as the only pitcher not under contract through that season is Colby Lewis who may or may not return after this season.
Holland and Darvish have the potential to be one of the best one-two punches in baseball with considerable depth behind them in the rotation setting up these Rangers as World Series contenders for a very long time.
Now on to those other core players like Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton. Something tells me one will be done long before the other, but Jon Daniels has a knack for getting deals done when you least expect them.
Just look at this contract extension with Holland that was rumored to be unattainable just a few weeks ago.