The Chicago Cubs, in the market for a left-handed reliever, acquired Derek Holland from the San Francisco Giants for cash, it was announced Friday. The team also recalled versatile Ian Happ from Triple-A Iowa, who started in right field in a 3-2 loss to the Brewers on Friday night. Happ went 0-for-3 with one strikeout.
"He's throwing the ball really, really well against lefties," team president Theo Epstein said of Holland on Friday afternoon. "It's been a long track record of success against lefties. ... We have a chance to target his role where he's matching up against lefties. Put him in a position to succeed."
Opposing lefties are hitting just .182 off Holland this year. As part of the trade announced Friday, San Francisco agreed to send Chicago $1,846,505 to cover all but $425,000 of the $2,271,505 remaining in Holland's $6.5 million salary this year. San Francisco also agreed to a conditional $500,000 payment for Holland's buyout if the Cubs decline his $6.5 million option for 2020.
Holland, 32, was designated for assignment by the Giants on Monday after allowing four earned runs in an inning during Saturday's loss to the New York Mets. In his previous 10 appearances dating to late June, he had a 0.68 ERA. On Friday, Holland, who does Harry Caray impressions, tweeted a picture of his dog, who is appropriately named Wrigley.
The 10-year veteran began the season as the No. 2 starter in the Giants' rotation but was moved to the bullpen in mid-May. He appeared in 31 games for the Giants this season, posting a 2-4 record with a 5.90 ERA and 71 strikeouts. After he was moved to the bullpen, Holland publicly criticized the Giants, saying the front office had him fake an injury while he spent a stint on the injured list with a bone bruise on his left index finger.
"To be honest, I have no idea what they're doing," Holland said. "I don't mean that by [manager Bruce Bochy] and them -- it's more from the front office. We keep changing a lot of things. I did a fake injury, so I'm not happy about that. But at the end of the day, I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do."
Holland had signed a one-year, $7 million contract in January to return to San Francisco for a second year. Among all National League pitchers against left-handed hitters this year, Holland has allowed the second-lowest slugging percentage (.195), third-lowest OPS (.471) and seventh-lowest batting average (.182). He also has limited lefty batters to a .276 on-base percentage.
Holland has been a starter for the majority of his career and has a 78-77 lifetime record over 221 starts with a 4.51 ERA in 275 big league appearances with the Texas Rangers (2009-16), Chicago White Sox (2017) and Giants (2018-19).
The 24-year-old Happ, who has played every defensive position except catcher and shortstop, made his 2019 debut with Chicago after spending parts of the past two seasons with the major league club. He was hitting .242 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in 99 games with Iowa this season. To make room for Holland on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated left-handed pitcher Tim Collins.
The team also announced 38-year-old veteran Ben Zobrist would be returning to baseball after leaving the Cubs for personal reasons in May.
"Zo has indicated he does plan on attempting to come back," Epstein said. "Its really good news. Sometime around next weekend he'll be ready from a physical, mental and fundamental standpoint to start playing some games."
Zobrist and his wife both filed for divorce shortly after he took his leave. He'll spend August in the minors with the hope he can help the big league team during the final month of the season.
"We're excited he's going to give us everything he has to come back and try and help the team down the stretch, hopefully into October," Epstein said.
Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP and an integral part of the Cubs' success over the past several seasons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.