What if the Red Sox don't re-sign Brock Holt?

Rob Bradford
November 21, 2019 - 11:04 am
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There have been few Red Sox players heading into free agency more popular among the New England sports fandom than Brock Holt.

Good clubhouse guy. Charitable. (His work with the Jimmy Fund has been next-level.) His young son Griff has become an Instagram-induced Boston sports icon. And, most importantly, Holt is valuable in so many ways when it comes to the major league roster.

But the hard, cold reality of managing payrolls and turning over teams from one year to the next is hovering over the Holt discussion. MLB Trade Rumors project the free-agent infielder will land with a two-year, $8 million deal, a number that might scare away the suddenly cost-conscious Red Sox.

Holt told the Section 10 Podcast guys that the Red Sox have reached out. And perhaps the 31-year-old takes the path of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce and jumps at a one-year deal for short money in order to secure his place in the Sox clubhouse. But when you get that first crack at free agency after all those years it would certainly make sense for Holt to let free agency breathe at least a little bit.

In a vacuum, there is no doubt he would be a good fit on this team.

With the uncertainty of Dustin Pedroia's situation Holt represents a veteran the Red Sox know can play the second base position on a semi-regular basis while supplying enough offense. (He hit a respectable .297 with a .771 OPS last season.) There is also the ability to cover the lineup in a variety of other areas, potentially allowing to prioritize carrying an extra pitcher on what will now be a 26-man roster.

There are three issues, however: 1. The potential price tag with the Red Sox desperate to find cheaper options in different corners of their roster; 2. Holt's physical recent physical issues, making the idea of banking on his role being an almost-everyday second baseman another risk at an already risky position; 3. They may have alternatives.

So ...

1. It doesn't seem like a lot of money, but when you're trying to get down to the $208 million luxury tax threshold like the Red Sox are every little bit counts. And we look at "every little bit" attention immediately turns to positions like first base, second base, fifth starter, relief pitching and backup position players. It's also why the odds of trying to replace Holt with another free agent -- such as Howie Kendrick -- would seem slim.

2. It's hard to ignore the fact Holt has played in more than 100 games once since 2015. Some of that has been getting opportunities but a good chunk was also unfortunate physical ailments. He obviously gained great respect attempting to fight through the ailments at every turn, but this has been the uncomfortable reality.

3. There is a reason C.J. Chatham played so much second base at the end of the Triple-A season while continuing the process in the Arizona Fall League. Also, the talk that Marco Hernandez was going to be introduced to the outfield in the Dominican Winter League was no fluke. No matter who the player, the Red Sox will need the skill-set provided by Holt in 2020 and that's why they already started preparing for the veteran's possible exit. The problem is this: You know what you're going to get with Holt. The alternatives? 

The Red Sox' offseason will be thick with tough decisions. For some of the faithful, this might be one of the most painful of them all.