Brock Holt is not going to play for the Red Sox in 2020. Okay, I shouldn’t say that with any sort of certainty. Brock Holt probably is not going to play for the Red Sox in 2020. Yes, he is still readily available as a free agent, but at least from the outside there has been no indication that the Red Sox have ever really considered bringing back the fan favorite. They also signed José Peraza back in December, which certainly complicates matters at Holt’s primary position. The latest bit of news around Holt is that the Reds are interested in his services, which is close to the Red Sox but also oh so far away. If the latter squad suddenly has a change of heart, though, it would be a winner of a move for them.
It’s not totally unreasonable that things could change on a whim, either. Typically, teams have a plan and don’t deviate from them, but this is far from a typical offseason for the Red Sox. They are coming off a disappointing season, most of the conversation around them this winter has been about them potentially trading their best player, they just had to fire their manager and they are under investigation by the league. If you’re mapping our your winter as a baseball team, this is not what you’re looking for. Fans are understandably a little angsty at the moment, and the Red Sox could use a PR win.
Holt would be that easy PR win. Not everyone would celebrate that move because basically nobody is universally loved, but Holt is about as far as you can get without breaking the bank, something they are clearly reticent to do. He is a fan favorite by every definition of the word and is beloved by the community, including many of its non-baseball fans. It wouldn’t make up for everything else, but it would lessen the tension around the team, at least for a little bit.
Now, you could argue that teams shouldn’t make moves based on PR, but I don’t think that’s true. Clearly not everything is about PR, but baseball is entertainment and teams need fans to stay afloat, no? At times, you need to appease your fans. Holt will cost little enough that the pros seem to outweigh the cons in this case.
Oh, and by the way, he would make the Red Sox a better baseball team, too. That seems to be important, in my opinion. Boston does have a lot of guys who can play second base, which is the biggest reason I don’t think Holt is coming back. They have the aforementioned Peraza, Michael Chavis, C.J. Chatham, Jonathan Arauz and Tzu-Wei Lin. The thing is, for all of those names, I’m not sure any of them are definitely good. There is, however, plenty of potential in that group and it’s not unreasonable to think that one of them will stand out sooner than later and run with the job.
That said, I do know Holt is solid, at least insofar as I can be sure about any player. Holt is never really a star (except for that one time he was literally an All-Star), but he’s basically always been pretty solid. Since breaking out in 2014, his wRC+’s by year have been 97, 99, 87, 50, 109 and 103. The middle two years aren’t great, but they were also seasons in which he was dealing with pretty serious head injuries. I’m willing to write those years off. For the most part he is a league-average hitter who will get on base at an above-average clip.
The big flaw in his game is that he never seems to do as well when he is playing all the time. He can play a lot, but giving him full-time work never really seems to work out. Fortunately, that can work for this Red Sox team! Remember all those second basemen mentioned before? There are plenty of options to get him time off! And in the scenario in which one of them does break out, you can move Holt around to get them both a fair amount time. Holt can cover that need in outfield depth mentioned yesterday, and he can provide the left-handed compliment they are currently lacking at first base, and he can fill in on the left side of the infield to give the two stars over there some rest. The thing about having a guy who can play just about everywhere is that it’s not hard to find him some playing time while not cutting too deeply into somebody else’s.
Like I said, I am not expecting this to happen. Is part of me saying that so many times me trying to reverse jinx it into existence? That’s my personal business. But really, I don’t see them going down that road, which is a mistake. The Red Sox could use a move that gets people talking positively about them again, and Brock Holt gives them that at (presumably) a relatively low price, in other words not really cutting into their financial goals. And, more importantly, it helps them win baseball games, too. It’s a slam dunk, and it’s a bummer that it probably won’t happen. Unless of course it does.