Is a Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox Reunion in the Works?

Brock Holt

Longtime Boston Red Sox utility man Brock Holt is officially on the open market. On Saturday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that they have parted ways with Holt while promoting Jace Peterson. Holt, of course, became something of a fan favorite during his time in Boston and received far less on the free agent market than anyone expected. Is a reunion between these two teams possible, or will Holt go somewhere else for the remainder of the season?

Could the Boston Red Sox Bring Back Brock Holt?

Before we get into Holt’s fit with the 2020 Red Sox, we should look into why the Brewers wanted to move on in the first place. At face value, Holt has been nothing short of horrific this season. The do-everything utility man currently spots an ugly .100/.222/.100 slash line with a 0 wRC+. For those unfamiliar with the advanced metric, this means that he has been 100% worse than a league-average hitter. He also has a -0.3 fWAR, which is impressive considering he only has 36 plate appearances.

The face value numbers are bad, but there are some reasons to believe it’s just an unfortunate stretch of bad luck. For one, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) currently sits at .136. The league average usually hovers around .300, and BABIP has more to do with luck than skill. This should normalize over time, which would make Holt’s performance at the plate far more tolerable.

However, that’s about where the positives end. Holt’s 25% strikeout rate is not good for a player with minimal power to his game, and his 63.6% ground ball rate tells us that he’s not making good contact even when he connects with the ball. To confirm this notion, StatCast data shows that Holt only has two hard hit balls on the season.

Holt only has 36 plate appearances this season, so we are dealing with a small sample here. However, you can’t completely overlook his struggles at the plate, especially when most of the underlying numbers suggest that he’s not the same hitter he was over the past two seasons.

The Current Roster

Even if you believe that Holt’s poor 2020 is just small-sample noise, it’s hard to see a fit on the current roster. Chaim Bloom and the current Red Sox front office had plenty of opportunities to bring Holt back in the offseason, but decided not to. Instead, they retained Tzu-Wei Lin while bringing in Jonathan Arauz and Jose Peraza.

While these guys haven’t exactly set the world on fire, all three are capable of doing their job at a similar level to Holt. Peraza has probably seen the most playing time of the bunch, putting up a .238/.289/.333 slash line in 90 plate appearances. Arauz, meanwhile, has a .286/.306/.343 slash line in 36 plate appearances. Lin has been pretty atrocious at the plate, but he’s a much better fielder than Holt.

Brock Holt will forever be a part of Red Sox history. However, based on the current roster construction, it’s hard to see the organization bringing him back for another run, at least at this point in time.

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