Detroit Tigers sign LHP Derek Holland, 1B/3B Drew Ward to minor-league contracts

Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

No big splashes, but the Detroit Tigers continue to stockpile players on minor-league contracts for organizational depth.

Most recently, the Tigers inked left-handed pitcher Derek Holland — a 12-year MLB veteran — and infielder Drew Ward, a source with knowledge of the agreements told the Free Press on Saturday.

There are no other minor-league signings at this time, the source said. Holland will receive an invite to big-league spring training. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Feb. 17 to Lakeland, Florida.

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Pirates starter Derek Holland pitches against the Tigers in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.
Pirates starter Derek Holland pitches against the Tigers in the first inning on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

During his 12 years in the majors, Holland has pitched for the Texas Rangers (2009-16), Chicago White Sox (2017), San Francisco Giants (2018-19), Chicago Cubs (2019) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2020). The 34-year-old has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.373 WHIP in 1,416⅓ innings across 307 games (227 starts).

Holland has reached more than 170 innings four times, and he has touched at least 130 innings during six of his seasons. In the last two years, he possesses 13 starts in 63 games for 125 combined innings.

In 2020, Holland posted a 6.86 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 15 walks in 40⅔ innings for the Pirates in 12 games. One of his five starts was Aug. 8 against the Tigers, when Holland served up four home runs on his first 11 pitches and allowed nine runs across five innings.

His best campaign came in 2013 for the Rangers, pitching a career-high 213 innings in 33 games. He had a 3.42 ERA, 189 strikeouts and 64 walks.

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While Holland has plenty of big-league experience, Ward is still waiting for his arrival. The 26-year-old was selected by the Washington Nationals in the third round of the 2013 draft. He spent 2020 with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, an independent team, in the American Association league.

A left-handed hitter, Ward went 73-for-218 (.335) in 58 games for Fargo-Moorhead, adding 17 home runs and 45 RBIs. He drew 23 walks and struck out 63 times.

Across seven years in the minors, he holds a .256 batting average in 722 games. His highest level of professional baseball was for Triple-A Fresno in 2019. He played 30 games during that stint and hit .288 with eight homers.

In the minors, Ward logged 540 games at third base and 95 games at first base. He was primarily a first baseman for his independent team last season.

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This offseason, the Tigers have inked a slew of pitchers to minor-league deals: Holland, Erasmo Ramirez, Ian Krol, Locke St. John, A.J. Ladwig, Henry Martinez, Zac Shepherd, Isrrael De La Cruz, Miguel Del Pozo, Robbie Ross and Andrew Moore.

Holland, Krol, St. John, Del Pozo and Ross are left-handers.

Non-pitchers on minor-league deals are Ward, catcher Dustin Garneau, infielder Yariel Gonzalez and first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez. The Tigers haven't made moves for free agents on MLB contracts since signing right-hander Jose Urena and outfielder Robbie Grossman.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers sign Derek Holland, Drew Ward to minor-league contracts