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

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
| Detroit Free Press

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

The team signed 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.

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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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 in six different seasons. Though in his past two seasons, he has only thrown 125 combined innings over 63 appearances (13 starts).

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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.

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

In seven minor-league seasons, he holds a .256 batting average in 722 games, peaking at 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 the RedHawks last season.

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This offseason, the Tigers have inked a slew of pitchers to minor-league deals: Holland, Erasmo RamirezIan KrolLocke St. John, A.J. Ladwig, Henry Martinez, Zac Shepherd, Isrrael De La CruzMiguel Del PozoRobbie 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 signed any big leaguers since their deals with right-hander Jose Urena and outfielder Robbie Grossman.

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

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