A former prospect and utility man of the Pittsburgh Pirates is available this offseason, meaning a possible reunion is at hand. Could the Pirates find potential value in Brock Holt?
The 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates saw an interesting utility player named Brock Holt make his Major League debut. While he would eventually be traded away, Holt make several strong impressions in his debut season. He made many strong plays in the field while also providing solid contact to the tune of a .292 batting average.
Should the Pittsburgh Pirates reunite with their former 2009 9th round pick in free agency this offseason? It would mean more than just a reunion with the city of Pittsburgh and the team that drafted him, but also a certain front office individual who sought after Holt in 2013.
In a 2014 article by Jason Mastrodonato on MassLive, then general manager Ben Cherington of the Boston Red Sox said this about Holt:
"“We just felt that his hitting approach would play in the big leagues. It was a very simple approach, compact swing, and he had some sneaky pop, played the game right, did a lot of little things that help a team. Nate felt like his value was more than numbers.”"
Cherington brought Holt to Boston the Joel Hanrahan trade back in 2013, which also sent Mark Melancon to Pittsburgh. Cherington was convinced to get Holt and succeeded in doing so. Though he would only play 26 games that season for the Red Sox, Holt would go on to be a strong versatile utility player for the Sox over the next few seasons.
Holt’s best two seasons came in the subsequent years when he batted put up a 2.2 and 2.0 fWAR respectively. He was an average hitter, posting a 98 wRC+ over the two seasons, but his defense at just about every position on the field made him a vital part of the roster.
Holt is a strong second baseman, and is a player who can fill in at third or short stop if needed. He can even man the corner at first base steadily. In the outfield he can play the corners very well and has in the past gathered a few innings in center, though not since 2015.
Holt also took strides with his bat in 2018, where he helped the Red Sox to their second World Series of the decade, putting up a 109 wRC+ in 109 games with a .362 on-base percentage. He followed that in 2019 with a 103 wRC+ and .369 OBP.
Last offseason, Holt saw a change in scenery signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, which did not work out very well. Holt batted just .100 in 36 plate appearances before being released. He was later signed by the Washington Nationals where he would bounce back in his final 21 games with a 80 wRC+ and a .262 average in 70 plate appearances.
With Cherington now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, could a reunion with Holt be a good fit for the Pirates?
When first watching him way back in 2012, I certainly thought he would be strong piece of the roster. His career to this point has proven that right, and I think he would be a good fit for a rebuilding team—one with an improving defense that can only get better.
Salary should not be an issue when looking at 32-year old Holt, who signed a one-year $2.5M with Milwaukee last year (yes, it is officially “last year”). If the Pirates wish to add to this team for 2021 without breaking the budget, Holt makes sense as he will provide both strong defense and versatility to the club. Cherington only needs to pull the trigger.