Seven seasons in Boston filled with impactful moments in postseason play, becoming the first player to ever hit a cycle during the playoffs, and an all-star appearance in 2015. It’s safe to say that Brock Holt made some noise during his time with the Red Sox.
After these seven years, Brock Holt will be hitting the free-agent market for the first time in his career this offseason, much to the dismay of Red Sox fans.
We’re about to enter a winter brimming with questions regarding the look of this team in 2020, which is almost the complete opposite of what we saw entering the 2019 season.
Following last year’s World Series Championship, the list of chores didn’t appear to be too demanding. Sure, you had to potentially find that arm to fill the closer role–that as we came to find out, was thoroughly overlooked–and the team was meek in attacking the reliever market. But the comprehensive tasks weren’t overwhelming, leaving fans in a sort of limbo like they currently are as we enter the upcoming free-agent season.
It’s clear what the first priority is for the front office and *fill in the new General Manager here*–get the payroll significantly down from what it has been over the last few seasons. The Red Sox once again opened up the year holding the title for the highest payroll in baseball sitting at $213 million followed somewhat closely by the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees.
The front office has made it clear that the goal is to get themselves underneath the base tax threshold of $208 million. And based on Christopher Smith’s calculations from MassLive.com, the team’s payroll will sit at just under $200 million based on the current guaranteed contracts and estimates made regarding the arbitration-eligible players.
With that being said, do the Red Sox have room to bring Brock Holt back in 2020?
The amount that Holt has brought to the table for this franchise has been greatly overlooked since he became a member of this team. He’s been a Swiss Army knife that has qualities that make him a rare talent in the game.
The versatility that he possesses is a major piece to what will cause him to be sorely missed if he does elect to move on from Boston which would most likely be due to the financial state of the team.
Holt’s never been viewed as a “starter” with the Red Sox but it felt like he’s been on the field as much as anybody. Through a 162 game season, the necessity to rest your star players and give them days to recover is critical. Holt’s ability to essentially play every position on the field with success has been a band-aid for this team that will be immensely difficult to replace. A key part of winning a championship in almost any sport is depth. And with his presence on the roster, he gave you that depth that you were looking for at any position in the infield and outfield. It’s difficult for me to refrain from believing that he could manage to be a serviceable catcher as well. Who knows, maybe even a pitcher.
Regardless, Alex Cora knowing that he had this safety net in Holt sitting on the bench, ready to fill in when need be with great production is invaluable.
In 87 games played this season, Holt put together a batting average of .297 with a .369 OBP. It wasn’t just that he could be a serviceable option when needed, but you could put him in your starting lineup and the loss in production would be minimal if any.
And with this ability to be inserted comfortably into any lineup, comes a look at next season’s roster.
Assuming that Michael Chavis will be on your Opening Day roster, there will still be question marks on the first base side of the infield.
You’ll most likely lose veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland along with Steve Pearce–who was barely a presence in 2019–making the position vacant. A strong option as an everyday first baseman could hypothetically be Michael Chavis, which then leaves second base still a crucial question.
Of course, Dustin Pedroia could make his way back into the 2020 lineup. But how reliable is that option after what we saw in the infancy of this season?
And with that potential hole, do you trust Marco Hernandez to then be your everyday man at second? This is a position where having someone like Brock Holt could be a great benefit, again, giving Alex Cora that safety net that he’s had over his early tenure as manager.
But of course, it’ll all come down to the contract which truthfully, hasn’t been spoken about much with Holt. With the success that he’s seen though, especially over the latest two campaigns, it’s tough to imagine that eventual number being something that the Red Sox will want to touch in their search for a sub $208 million year.
Sam Kennedy touched on the discussion of their mission to keep the payroll down. And when speaking on the possibility of retaining Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, he said, “Yes, there is a way but obviously it will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts that we have in place. Look, we have a very targeted and strategic plan that we’re building right now.”
That sounds like if there is any chance at spending on their free agents hitting the market this winter, it’ll either be on Martinez, or it will be a fresh deal signed by Betts. Or in layman’s terms, there may not be the money to bring Holt back.
Holt’s been a glue guy for this Red Sox clubhouse. It’s been immensely evident that his veteran leadership and chipper attitude has a way of rubbing off on his teammates. But with the financial restraints put on the 2020 roster, even with the value he brings to the club, expect Holt to be in another uniform come April of next year.
And sadly for those who want to seem him back, according to his latest Instagram post, it appears as though he doesn’t anticipate a return to Boston.
He’s expressed his desire to remain with the Red Sox. But unless he decides to take a deal that is heavily in favor of the Red Sox financial state, then fans will have to start following him to another organization, because his time here is more than likely up.