Derek Holland was unceremoniously dumped by the White Sox on Tuesday, as the club requested waivers to grant his unconditional release.
The writing on was the wall with Holland, who had a 9.32 ERA and a 1.070 OPS allowed since the start of June, but it always says something extra when a player is cut loose when it can easily be avoided (the 40-man roster would have been at 39 if they hadn’t released Holland).
The statement made by the team is subject to interpretation. My interpretation is:
- The team ripping off the Band-Aid, which might sting a little, but also lets both sides move on to whatever’s next.
But for those who weren’t enamored with Holland, I’ve seen the message received like:
2. The team couldn’t wait to get rid of him.
We’ve seen the Sox exercise that one, most notably when they cut Jeff Keppinger with a year and a half left on his contract. They tagged him in the tweet heading out, which seemed cold on purpose, and Marcus Semien’s voice was the only sound besides crickets.
Holland’s personality is divisive among fans who want a ballplayer to look as unhappy as those watching him, and given the White Sox’ history with players who are more “athlete funny” than “funny,” I didn’t rule the second one out initially.
But they didn’t tag him in the transaction tweet.
The #WhiteSox have requested waivers on LHP Derek Holland for the purpose of granting his unconditional release.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 5, 2017
Instead, they thanked him:
Thank you for everything, @Dutch_Oven45. pic.twitter.com/cInnAmUpOy— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 5, 2017
And Holland responded with an Instagram post so lengthy that I’ll quote it instead of embedding it:
Dear @whitesox and #whitesoxnation thank you all for everything you did for me and always cheering for me through the good times and getting on me in the bad times. Wish there would of been more good than bad but at the end of the day I was healthy and that is huge to me. I can't thank the fans of chicago enough for welcoming me and letting me be apart of this program. I understand that this release was going to happen. I was not performing well and that's my own fault but the main thing is I made sure I showed up day in and day out to give the chicago family everything I possibly could. I feel terrible for not being able to perform the way I'm capable but appreciate the opportunity that the white sox provided for me. The staff from coaches to front office were class act and extremely grateful for everything you all did for me and welcoming me the way you did. You kept me injury free and made me stronger and better. There is a bright future of stars coming up and is going to be fun to watch. That club house is going to be missed and grateful for all of my teammates in chicago. A lot of unbelievable talent in that club house and it's going to be one hell of a team within the next year. To all my teammates thank you so much for pushing me everyday and having my back. Thank you for making this season fun. I will continue to watch and see the great plays and performances from my teammates because there is a lot of talent and the skipper will continue to push them everyday. Thank you chicago white sox for this greats opportunity and helping me stay healthy. Now it's time to see where god takes me and take on my next challenge. Again thank you to all my teammates, staff and the front office for letting me be apart of the @whitesoxorganization. God bless
And if you needed a third party, Rick Renteria called Holland “a good teammate, a gentleman, a nice man to have around,” while James Shields called him “a great teammate.”
I’m guessing this isn’t lip service, because the Sox have chosen silence in previous cases. If you’re looking for evidence supporting the claims by Renteria and Shields, when Tommy Kahnle was randomly smeared by LaTroy Hawkins, Holland came to his defense more emphatically than anybody.
So I buy the well-wishing, and am curious about how much Holland’s brand of weirdness kept the Sox upbeat and lively despite being overmatched more often than not. For a team that is every bit as rebuildy as the offseason promised, loaded with rookies who might fail harder and more publicly than ever before, it doesn’t hurt to have a guy who can lighten the mood and take up some of the oxygen when the media is around. He didn’t work out, but there was a reason he only signed for one year and $6 million in the first place.