The Indians could go in a number of different directions this winter, but a conversation with Brock Holt would be a good place to stop along the way.
The Cleveland Indians are a tough team to get a read on in terms of what their winter plans might be, even for those who follow them closely. It would stand to reason that an ambitious winter is in the cards for the Tribe after missing the playoffs in 2019, but time will tell.
There are roads for the Indians to take that would create seismic ripple effects throughout the league for years to come, such as trading Francisco Lindor or one of their several quality starting pitchers.
Safer routes include going after the likes of Mike Moustakas and Corey Dickerson–both of whom align organically with the Indians’ roster needs–in free agency. Lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz would be a worthwhile endeavor on this year’s market as well.
Whether the Indians display some urgency or not, there is always room for low-profile acquisitions with minimal risk attached. Enter Brock Holt, the longtime utility man of the Boston Red Sox.
After declining Jason Kipnis‘ 2020 club option, the Indians need a second baseman. Or, they need a versatile infielder who could potentially allow Jose Ramirez to transition to second full-time. Holt checks both boxes. While the aforementioned Moustakas is the dream acquisition for this particular need, the less expensive Holt would leave the Tribe with more flexibility to spend up on other positions.
Holt’s offensive contributions are unlikely to be game-changing; it’s easy to see him slotting in as the ninth hitter in Cleveland’s lineup most days. To his credit, he’s posted relatively low strikeout rates throughout his career, along with an on-base percentage above .360 and a wRC+ of at least 103 in his last two seasons.
Offense would be of secondary importance to Holt’s ability to play almost anywhere on the field. Though his ideal position is second base, Holt logged at least 22 innings at every infield position in 2019. Considering he appeared in just over half of Boston’s games during an otherwise injury-plagued campaign, it has to be looked upon as impressive that Holt was still able to be utilized all over the diamond.
Holt also played nearly 80 combined innings in left and right field in 2019. For his career, he has logged at least 200 innings at every infield position, along with 1,377 in the outfield. Having a player with this versatility allows for a certain level of peace of mind in a manager. While he’d be unlikely to play much shortstop or first base for the Indians, he is a candidate to play four other positions on any given day.
MLB Trade Rumors pegged Holt for a two-year deal worth $8 million in their Top 50 MLB Free Agents piece earlier this offseason. That is hardly out of the Indians’ price range, and they should be in regular contact with him if that’s the type of deal he’s looking at.
The Indians were ravaged by injuries in 2019, losing Kipnis, Lindor, Ramirez, Tyler Naquin, and Jordan Luplow for varying stretches throughout the season. Holt could’ve filled in for any one of them. Cleveland will hope for much better injury luck in 2020, but having a Swiss Army knife like Holt around sure couldn’t hurt.