The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested in free agent Brock Holt according to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. It was just the day before that President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams said that he believed the Reds would add to the Major League roster before spring training begins. Adding Brock Holt would seemingly do that, as he appears to be the kind of player that would get a Major League deal rather than a minor league one.
The Reds roster is full of utility players right now. So how could adding another one help? Well, in the case of Brock Holt he could help out in more than a few ways. At the plate over the last two seasons he’s played in 196 games and hit .286/.366/.407. That’s come in about one years worth of plate appearances though, despite it being in 196 games. There’s not a ton of home run power that’s been there, but he’s racked up 32 doubles, four triples, and 10 homers in 580 at-bats. He gets on base at a good clip thanks to a high average and a quality walk rate – he’s sitting at 65 total walks in 662 plate appearances in the last two seasons.
ZiPS projections aren’t out for Brock Holt yet. But we do have the Marcel and Steamer projections to look at. The Marcel projections have him at .267/.347/.395 for 2020. Steamer isn’t quite as high, projecting a .249/.331/.366 line. Both would be perfectly acceptable for a utility player. Quality on-base percentages in both lines. The question is, how is that really any different than what, say, Josh VanMeter brings to the table? His projections are right there with those of Holt, except with more power. Both guys are left-handed hitters, too.
The difference may come down to defense. Brock Holt has played shortstop in the Major Leagues. It’s never been a lot, but he’s covered the position. In 2019 it was just six games and 33 innings. But in 2018 it was another 23 games and 153 innings. That’s something Josh VanMeter can’t, or at least hasn’t done lately. He last played shortstop with any sort of significant playing time in 2014 when he was in the Padres organization. He did play 1 inning of shortstop in 2019. Back in 2018 he played 78 innings there, and 15 innings before that. It doesn’t seem like shortstop, though, is in his future at the Major League level. And Cincinnati could certainly use someone who can spell shortstop at times. Maybe you can cover that with Kyle Farmer if he’s on the team – but there’s a chance that he’s not on the team all season, either.
Shortstop seems to be the one position on the field where the Reds don’t seem to be willing to give back some defense. Having another option that can actually play shortstop could be rather beneficial at times for Cincinnati if they want to try and use platoons at times between someone else with Freddy Galvis, who is a strong defender with a little bit of pop in his bat, but a guy who has historically struggled to get on base.