The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Derek Holland on a minor league deal, according to a report by Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press. The news was widely anticipated to be broken after Holland changed his social media profiles to reflect the signing.
Holland, who has 12 years of MLB experience in the league, spent 2020 pitching for the league-worst Pittsburgh Pirates. He finished the season with a 6.14 FIP and career-worst 6.86 ERA through 40.1 innings. His 12 games came in the form of five starts and seven relief appearances, and he seems likely to fill a similar swingman role in Detroit.
This signing is a little bit similar to the José Ureña deal in that it provides the team with added flexibility with their starting rotation and bullpen. Both are pitchers who can serve in either role, albeit not at a particularly high level, and will have their place on the team determined by the performance of (and perhaps injuries suffered by) others in the organization.
Holland had a late-career resurrection with the Giants in 2018, tossing 30 starts for only the third time in his career and came away with respectable results. However, that didn’t last, and he regressed the way a headlight regresses when it comes into contact with a sledgehammer. Exactly what the Tigers see in Holland isn’t clear yet, but they’re likely intrigued by his high active spin and strangely good strikeout numbers last season.
The Tigers have also signed minor league free agent Drew Ward to a minor league deal, per the same report. Ward is a career minor-leaguer who was drafted in the 3rd round by the Nats in 2013 and has spent the entirety of his career in Washington. The 26-year-old hit well in Double- and Triple-A in 2019. He’s almost certainly a break-glass depth player and will fill a similar role as Frank Schwindel did over the last two seasons.
Despite promises of a revamped roster after hiring AJ Hinch as the team’s skipper, the Tigers have been conspicuously quiet on the free agent and trade markets this offseason. There’s still plenty of time for them to add a few players, although guys who would make a meaningful impact will only be harder to find as the offseason progresses. It’s quite possible that they’re waiting until late in the offseason and intend to swoop in hopes that a handful of players will get desperate to find a home and agree to cut a bargain.