Derek Holland and the Texas Rangers are discussing a five-year contract that would buy out his arbitration years and allow the team to keep him at the beginning of his free agency period, a source confirmed Thursday.
That's similar to what the Rangers did with second baseman Ian Kinsler a few years ago, giving the team a club option for the 2013 season before Kinsler is scheduled to become a free agent. The team is also talking to Kinsler's representatives about a long-term deal.
"I love it in Texas and it's where I'd like to be," Holland said. "Hopefully my agent and JD (GM Jon Daniels) can work something out. I'll go somewhere else if I have to, but this is where I call home. I don't think we're too far off, but I don't know for sure. I don't try to think too much about it. I leave that with my agent."
This is all part of the club's desire to lock up "core" players into the future and to do it before Holland's stock could rise even higher. Holland, 25, is now arbitration-eligible and is slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The club would like to tie him up through 2016 if possible.
Holland took an important step forward in his maturation process in 2011, going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 198 innings. He showed an ability to get past rough outings and become more consistent, putting up a 9-1 record and a 3.06 ERA after the All-Star break. He said his offseason focus is his changeup.
"I want it to get back to where it was earlier in my career," Holland said. "I feel like I'm working on it. I've got some more confidence in it and I used it in the World Series. It's something I need to develop and get it back to its old self."
Holland then performed well under the bright postseason lights. He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six games (four starts) in the playoffs. He was incredible in Game 4 of the World Series when his team needed it most. With the Rangers down 2-1 in the series, Holland threw 8 1/3 shutout innings on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in the Rangers' victory.
The performance impressed Rangers CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. He called the outing the biggest of Holland's career and at the time said it was the biggest game in the organization's history.
"Do I think (Game 4) is going to have an impact on Derek Holland's career? Yeah, I really do," Ryan said the day after Holland's World Series start. "Do I think he's going to struggle at times? Yeah, he's going to continue to struggle at times. But I think that what he experienced [in Game 4] and what he accomplished is going to be very beneficial to him."
The contract talks were first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
Richard Durrett covers the Texas Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.