The Pittsburgh Pirates have some holes to fill after the Starling Marte trade. Plus without a multi-positional player, this player might fill in multiple gaps on the roster.
The Pittsburgh Pirates trading Starling Marte means that now a large hole is now open in the outfield. Not only that, but third base is also a question mark until top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes is ready. Plus, the Bucs don’t really have a reliable utility man. Sure Erik Gonzalez started to see more time in the outfield later in the season, but that’s far from a good option.
With all of those factors, the Pirates need someone who can play wherever they need. Last season, the Pirates saw many players hit the injured list and having a guy where you can plug-in-play and feel comfortable wherever you put him.
This is where Brock Holt comes into play. Holt was a former Pirates’ farmhand at the beginning of the 2010s. But he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in the 2012-2013 offseason as part of the blockbuster deal that saw the Pirates acquire right-hander Mark Melancon. Holt, along with former all-star closer and current Pirates Double-A pitching coach Joel Hanarhan was sent to the Sox for Melancon, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Stolmy Pimentel, and Jerry Sands.
Holt’s utility makes up most of his value. In his career, Holt has at least 200 innings played at every position aside from center field (75.2 innings), catcher, and pitcher. Now he isn’t a phenomenal defender at every single position, but he can play every position to at the very minimum, adequate level. According to Baseball Savant, Holt was in the 80th percentile in outs above average in 2019.
As I said, Holt’s value is mostly in his versatile glove, he isn’t a slouch with the bat. Holt has had two straight decent solid seasons in Boston before hitting free agency. In 2018, he hit .277/.362/.411 with 7 long balls in 367 plate appearances. Both OPS+ and wRC+ rank him 9% above league average (109).
In 2019, the left-handed hitter batted .297/.369/.402 with 3 home runs in 295 PAs. His bat was still ranked above average at 101 OPS+/103 wRC+. That combines for a solid .772 OPS and 105 OPS+ in the past two seasons. Just to add-on, Holt doesn’t usually make soft contact, with just a 14.6% rate last season. His overall production is very similar to 2019 players like catchers Christian Vazquez, and Wilson Ramos, and Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario.
I’d argue that Holt is the best free agent still on the market. Not too many players can give you the versatility he does, especially with the offense he can produce. This is something the Pirates need, especially given their current roster situation. If they can land him on a cheap deal too, he could bring back an interesting prospect at the deadline.