By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Coming off an 84-win season and dealing with the loss of Mookie Betts and David Price, the 2020 Boston Red Sox probably aren’t going to contend for a World Series. And certainly, the difference between a championship season and a fourth-place finish likely won’t come down to the absence of one Mr. Brock Holt.
Still, in an offseason where there’s been literally nothing for Red Sox fans to celebrate, the news of Holt signing with the Brewers nevertheless makes the offseason just a little bit worse.
Holt, 31, had become somewhat of a fan favorite during his seven-year tenure with the Red Sox, which began in December 2012 when he was thrown in to the deal that brough Joel Hanrahan to Boston. Hanrahan would pitch just 7.1 innings for the Red Sox, and he was never seen from again. Holt, meanwhile, went on to establish a most unlikely career.
In 614 games with the Red Sox, Holt played first base, second base, shortstop and third base. He played left field, and right field, and center field. And he DH’d. And he played them all quite well — except for DH. Perhaps the utilityman found it difficult to perform without having a utility, as he batted just .059 as a DH.
In some circles, Holt become something of a representative of a bright spot during a dark period, as he was the team’s lone All-Star representative in an otherwise dreary 2015 season. That also happened to Holt’s best season; he batted .280, hit 27 doubles and six triples, posted a .727 OPS, stole eight bases on nine attempts, and had a .982 fielding percentage while manning seven different positions.
Similarly, when he became the first player to ever hit for the cycle in a playoff game, the accomplishment was downplayed as meaningless or gimmicky, considering it came during a 16-1 win in the Bronx. That one night may have distracted from the reality that Holt put together two very solid seasons to end his Red Sox career. In 196 games in 2018 and 2019, Holt batted .286 with a .772 OPS, with 32 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 77 RBIs.
Holt won a ring in 2013, though he wasn’t a part of the Red Sox’ postseason roster. When he did get his chance to play in the postseason, he made the most of it. He led the Red Sox with a .400 average and 1.200 OPS in the 2016 ALDS loss to the Indians, and he batted .259 with an .894 OPS during the 2018 run to the World Series. In Game 4 of that World Series, he hit a one-out, two-strike double in a tie game in the top of the ninth before coming around to score the go-ahead run.
Over the course of that Red Sox career, he authored some memorable moments — on and off the field.
Today, some of the families he's touched say thank you. pic.twitter.com/V67yes4XjX
— Infield Chatter (@InfieldChatter) July 12, 2019
Holt did all of his work with the Red Sox over seven seasons for less than $10 million — or roughly 63 percent of the total the Red Sox will pay the Dodgers for David Price to pitch in L.A. this year … and then again next year … and also the year after that.
Given his abilities on the field, his work with the Jimmy Fund, his relationships with teammates and his involvement with fans, it might have made sense for the Red Sox to keep Holt around, if only as a way of providing one bit of positive news in an offseason that desperately needs some.
“I know how much he means to the community. You can see just recently he’s still active in the community, even as a free agent. I saw he made a nice donation recently,” Chaim Bloom said of Holt back in December. “That says something about who he is and how much this community means to him. I know and I’ve kind of gotten a taste of it coming here that certain players just really seem to bond with the fan base. He’s certainly been one of those and that’s not something that’s lost on any of us.”
“He’s a guy who was very beloved here. He was a nice guy to put in that lineup with no worries. He was always going to go out there and be Brock,” Xander Bogaerts told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “Obviously, we’re going to miss that.”
Alas, the Red Sox opted to sign Jose Peraza and Kevin Pillar (for $7 million combined), and they elected to give Holt’s jersey number to Alex Verdugo. The team moved on from Holt, so Holt had to move on from the team.
With the disappointing end to the 2019 season, and the historic trade of a monumental talent, and the ongoing investigation into sign-stealing accusations from the 2018 championship season, plus a less-than-inspiring press conference to try to explain it all (and sell some tickets!), it’s been a long, ugly winter for the Boston Red Sox. Kicking away a player who loved Boston — and whom Boston loved back — seems like an unnecessary addition to that list.