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.

57 Responses

  1. Old-school

    The reds don’t have a back up SS.
    Galvis will need to be pinch hit for in late inning high leverage situations. It might be AA or Ervin or Winker. Also need an insurance policy if Galvis pulls a spring training scooter gennett group. Seems like a much cheaper version of Whit Merrifield with SS potential in a pinch.

    • David

      Need a starting short stop. Via trade with Astros, dodgers, Indians, rays give up often hurt senzel along with India and Mahle. Get it done.

  2. vegastypo

    Not sure what this means for Kyle Farmer, who I like because he can catch as well. With an extra spot on the active roster, is there room for both?

    My bigger point is that if this is what Dick Williams meant by adding to the big league roster, then I’m a bit disappointed. I’m still waiting for a bigger bat, maybe even a starting shortstop.

    Time will tell ….

    • BK

      I could see Farmer, Holt and Galvis all making the team giving the Reds tons of positional versatility and both LH and RH infield bats on the bench each day. With Holt’s strong positive splits against RHP last year, I could see him getting a number of starts at SS with the Reds. In short, I think he would be a great addition.

      • B-town fan

        Don’t forget Galvis is a switch hitter. But they do need credible backup, Brock could be that.

    • VaRedsFan

      @Vegas…you obviously forgot about Jesse Biddle.
      Both he and Holt are the final missing pieces.

      I’m with you…we need a “needle moving” acquisition.

      • Greenfield Red

        The rumor is the “need moving” acquisition is Senzel to SS. If he can play there, and they never really tried him there, that will improve the lineup. They could still try to get one of the two remaining high end outfielders.

  3. Klugo

    ..and should be pretty cheap. (Relatively speaking)

  4. BK

    “That’s something Josh VanMeter can’t, or at least hasn’t done anywhere in his career.”

    According to Baseball-Reference.com, VanMeter has logged 811 innings and made 94 starts as a shortstop in the minors. The Reds have likely concluded, he can’t adequately man shortstop in the majors based on his minor league work.

    • Optimist

      Small sample size disclaimer, as well as unreliable eye-test, but last season in MLB showed JVM to be limited to 2b for positive production. A stopgap anywhere else.

      OK with Blandino as the 26th man/backup SS, though as Doug notes, Holt covers for both of them.

      Still, seems a marginal improvement for the price, but marginal may be what they need for this year.

      • VaRedsFan

        Blandino should never be on the major league roster.
        He belongs in AAA. Break glass in case of emergency.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, isn’t there a lot of egg on my face.

      I don’t have a clue what it was that I was looking at. I had a few player pages open at once, but I can’t figure out who I would have been looking at that I would have confused with VanMeter, too.

      Time to go edit this.

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Holt would be a nice addition. He’d add options and depth at several positions. He’d be a better option at SS than Galvis, but not necessarily the upgrade I was hoping for there. Still, much better than doing nothing to upgrade SS.

  6. Philip B

    Holt would be a fine addition. Still feel #1 shortstop solution is Senzel. Has speed and arm to do the job. At least worth a major look/see during spring training. Larkin was quoted as saying he could handle the job. Winker/Irvin, Akiyama and Aquino could handle outfield and risk of Senzel running into walls is eliminated.

    • Colorado Red

      Too late,
      Cannot hit, cannot field.
      Too pricey.

  7. Joey

    Does anyone think they would give him the SS position? Would the higher avg and OBP be better than the power Galvis has?

    • MK

      Would also give back more runs defensively than Galvis. If you are building a team around strong starting pitching they need to back yhem up with defense. Holt and Moose up the middle would would be weak.

      I really like what Farmer does for the team with his ability to catch and play all infield positions.

    • DaveCT

      Possibly, though his use in Beantown was around the horn several times a week. He was a pretty valuable player in that way. That said, his bat is what would get him more time here or elsewhere, with SS the likely destination for most of his time.

  8. AirborneJayJay

    If the Reds sign Holt it would be like a trade swapping out Peraza for Holt, since Peraza signed with Boston. I’ll take that trade off any day.
    Holt would be a tremendous addition to the Reds. He might become the Reds version of Ben Zobrist like the Cubs had for a few years. I like that. Galvis will lose a lot of AB’s vs. RHP to Holt. I like that too.
    Many people are underestimating what Holt would mean to the Reds. David Bell would love him and would play him all over the field. No doubt about that.

    • DaveCT

      None at all. Plus, intangibles, which Bell would drool over as well.

  9. MBS

    He has better numbers than I thought, could be a nice platoon with Galvis. It muddies the bench a bit.

    (Shogo, Aquino), Casali, Holt, Davidson, Ervin

    Leaves Farmer and Van Meter on the outside looking in

    • Bdh

      I’d take Farmer over Davidson. Can play all over the infield including behind the plate and doesn’t require taking anyone off the 40 man to put him on the team. Bench would be set if Holt signs. Wish the reds had taken a pitcher in the rule 5 draft instead of the outfielder likely heading back to Oakland.

  10. Bill

    Every “outside looking in” player is potential piece in a bigger trade.

  11. T-Rox

    Has anyone thought that Holts #s comes from a team of proven cheaters? What would his #s be without sign stealing?

  12. Tom Diesman

    If they sign Holt, my SS preferences would then be Senzel, Holt, then Galvis.

  13. Hotto4Votto

    I was thinking last night about some of the benefits Holt may add. Specifically I was thinking about lineup construction/batting order. Against RHP, the Reds could use an interesting lineup construction. At times in the past the Reds have batted the pitcher 8th with a position player batting 9th. Whether you’re for or against this, the basic idea is to try and put more guys on base ahead of the heart of your order when it turns over. The problem the Reds have had is that they’ve typically put guys like Hamilton or Peraza in the 9th spot, and they both struggle a lot with getting on base and defeated a lot of the purpose of batting them 9th. (But they had speed!)

    Now, if you put a guy like Holt in the 9th spot, things could get interesting. Holt has a .340 career OBP, but the past two seasons he’s been above .360 each season. Against RHP last season Holt got on base at a .394 clip. Now imagine you’re turning the line up over and you have Holt, Akiyama, and Votto all batting before guys like Suarez, Moustakas, and Winker. That could potentially lead to a lot of guys on base. More guys on base correlates to more runs scored.

    Just a thought I’ve been turning over in my mind.

  14. Old-school

    Mark Polishuk is a long time staff write/ contributor on MLB traderumors. He’s a knowledgeable guy for all things MLB. He hosted a chat today and was asked who is the reds starting SS on Opening Day. He speculated Nick Senzel.

    Am I missing something? The reds FO has been clear Senzel won’t play corner outfield at all and will focus on only CF but has not suggested SS since 2 spring trainings ago. Does the Shogo signing change things?

    • vegastypo

      All I know is he played shortstop during one spring training, and from what I heard, he played it pretty capably. (As I have groused before, if the Reds were willing to have Peraza play there for 156 games that season, the bar wasn’t exactly set at All-Star level defensively.) And one spring training isn’t exactly the largest sample size in this age of analytics.

      But after that, he was sent to the minors to play second base. So was Senzel bad at shortstop? Or did he just get outplayed by Peraza, who was thought to be the long-term answer there?

      Perhaps others heard interviews with Reds people saying more directly that Senzel wasn’t suited to play short, and I just didn’t hear about it. But if the Reds are even considering it, they’re sure not telling anybody now.

      Note to Doug: Did you see Senzel during that spring? And/or did Reds people tell you directly that he just didn’t get the job done there?

      • Doug Gray

        It seems a lot of people either didn’t hear it, or didn’t want to hear it, but he’s not a shortstop. I know I’ve said it many times before, but people who work for the Reds have told me that he’s not a shortstop, and honestly, even if they didn’t say it, their actions said it. If they believed he could have played shortstop, they wouldn’t have moved him to second base, where he actually had played before, and kept him at shortstop after that trial in the spring a few years ago. But they did move him to second base. And that happened for a reason that was directly related to his abilities and not those of someone else.

      • JoshG

        I was pretty sure they said they moved Senzel to 2B becuase that was going to be the first available position for him to make it to the Majors .. with Peraza supposed to be at SS… But Gennett came out of no where, then they switched the plan to CF.

        I still don’t remember seeing anything from anyone with the Reds saying anything different

      • LWblogger2

        What Doug said… Apparently he worked extensively with Barry Larkin that off-season and during the spring. While it was believed Senzel could handle SS in a pinch, the powers that be (including Larkin) felt that Senzel wasn’t an everyday SS at the MLB level. They felt he was much more suited to 2B if moving off of 3B.

        I’ll also add that while Senzel played some SS in college, when the regular starting SS returned, Senzel moved back to 3B. He only played SS 3 or 4 times when both he and the regular SS were available. This also indicates to me that he’s not a great option for SS.

  15. Ron Payne

    1 Sign Brock Holt.
    2 Trade for C Willson Contreras.
    3 Trade for LF Ryan Braun and RP Josh Hader.

    CF Akiyama
    SS Senzel
    1B Votto
    3B Suarez
    2B Moustakas
    LF Braun
    RF Winker
    C Contreras

    C Barnhart
    UT Farmer
    UT Holt
    INF Galvis
    OF Aquino
    OF Ervin

    SP Castillo
    SP Gray
    SP Bauer
    SP DeSclafani
    SP Miley

    RP Iglesias
    RP Hader
    RP Lorenzen
    RP Garrett
    RP Stephenson
    RP Reed
    RP De Leon

  16. MK

    Keeping Farmer actually makes the bench one player deeper. Whether he is on the bench or in the game somewhere. he allows you to use your second catcher as a pinch hitter, where if Farmer isn’t on team you can not use the back-up.

  17. Tom

    I think adding Holt is smart, especially if a trade for a SS isn’t feasible or is too expensive. Adding Holt to the 26-Man Roster leaves a few positions the Reds should still be considering upgrades.

    Starting Position Players (with Platoons) (12)
    – 1B Votto
    – 2B Moustakas
    – SS Galvis
    – 3B Suarez
    – RF Aquino
    – CF Senzel LHP / Akiyama RHP
    – LF Winker RHP / Ervin LHP
    – C Barnhart RHP / Casali LHP

    Bench (2)
    – Holt (SS/IF/OF)
    – Farmer (C/IF/OF)

    Starting Pitchers (5)
    – Castillo
    – Grey
    – Bauer
    – Desclafani
    – Miley

    Relief Pitchers (8)
    – Iglesias
    – Lorenzen (OF)
    – Garrett
    – Stephenson
    – Reed
    – Romano
    – Bowman
    – De Leon

    • Tom

      I think Galvis, Romano, and De Leon are the obvious upgradable players.

      • BK

        I think Sims is a front runner over Romano and DeLeon for the bullpen. He was solid in relief last year and brings a different look with his outstanding curveball to the pen.

    • Curt

      So Senzel is a platoon player? Why? His splits don’t warrant it. Healthy he should be playing 8 innings every game.

      • Earmbrister

        Totally agree. Senzel should be your day everyday CFr. Akiyama should split with Aquino in RF.

        I like the Holt idea. Sign him and pack the bags for ST. Done.

    • Gonzo Reds

      I don’t see Aquino as a full time player with all our OF choices and with the usual second year opposing team adjustments… he still might be just a flash in the pan. Think Senzel will play pretty much every day either at CF or at SS…

      Hate to lose Romano for nothing and we can’t send him down but I agree that Sims brings a little different approach that might throw off batters plus he looked pretty good in spot starts last year, although we’d probably promote Maile first, if available, when a SP misses a start or two. Also, quite likely we keep an extra RP to start the season as we work up the starters innings so one of the OF likely will start the year in the minors for regular innings.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Agree with others about RF. Akiyama takes the majority of starts in RF, with Aquino getting the others. Senzel remains full time. I’d also have Galvis and Holt platoon at SS with Holt getting the majority of starts. IMO, Sims and Kuhnel and the minor league FA’s compete for last bullpen spots along with Romano, Bowman, and possibly DeLeon who has an option and could continue to start in AAA. The last few spots should provide a nice competition.

      • greenmtred

        The thing is, we don’t know how good Aquino will be, nor do we know how good Akiyama will be.

      • Hotto4Votto

        True. Which, IMO, means we shouldn’t bank on either completely and put them in positions where they may best succeed through use of a platoon. There’s more RH starting pitchers than left-handed ones, which is why Akiyama would get the majority of the starts.
        Small sample size applies, but Aquino’s SLG was almost identical from both sides of the plate in his platoon splits (2 points higher verse RHP), but is average increased by 10 points vs. LHP and his OBP increased by 25 points vs LHP leading to a higher OPS vs. LHP. Starting him against lefties appears a reasonable path to finding success early on, and would also give us a good idea of what we have in Akiyama.

      • Hotto4Votto

        ETA not from “both sides of the plate”, should have said against either handed pitcher.

  18. Tom Mitsoff

    I was hoping Holt would be a starting shortstop option, but that doesn’t seem to be a good fit for him. Still, adding him would be another move to improve the team without surrendering player assets. Anytime you can improve the team, go for it.

    However, Holt is not the impact bat they still need in order to become a clear contender for the division crown and World Series. Shortstop is a gaping hole in the hitting lineup, and it may not be possible to correct via trade.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Tom you may be right. The trade route does not offer up many difference makers, and even with those few it’s hard to determine their actual availability and for what price. I keep coming back to the fact that Holt did play the SS position the 2nd most out of all the positions he plays, but agree it’s still not a big sample size overall. It may come down to how much defense the Reds are willing to concede for better offense. I’m not sure where the tipping point lies, but traditionally up the middle defense has been important. I think the best we can hope for from Moose and Senzel is average defense at their positions. Can an offensive minded SS be enough of a boost to overcome average to slightly below average defense up the middle?

      Although, I think I may have found a creative answer in the form of Chris Taylor of the Dodgers. Taylor started 30 games at SS for the Dodgers last season and totaled 281 innings . In 2018 he started 73 games at SS and totaled 671.1 innings. In 2018 he tallied 5 DRS at SS. If I recall correctly, he came up a SS (in fact there was a time that thought the Reds should trade with the M’s for him). Last season the Dodgers used him primarily as an OF (409 innings) with most of his time coming in LF.

      I wonder if there’s a workable trade here. There’s been some rumblings that the Dodgers would like to move Pederson’s final year contract as well. I wonder if something like Jesse Winker (+ prospects not named Tyler, Nick, Hunter, or Jose) for Taylor and Peterson would work for both sides. The Dodgers would use an OF of Bellinger, Pollock, Verdugo, and Winker. We could slot Pederson in as an immediate replacement of Winker and slot Taylor into SS. With Taylor just entering arbitration, we’re essentially just adding Pederson’s money to payroll. Maybe even have enough to still sign Holt.

      Of course it could be some other version…no Pederson, swap out Winker for Iglesias and other pieces? Maybe just prospects for Taylor? But it’s another option the Reds FO could consider.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        I really like the idea of Taylor. He is a definite offensive upgrade over Galvis. If taking on Pederson’s horrible contract would motivate the Dodgers, I would hope Williams and Krall will explore it. (They probably already have.) 🙂

        However, he’s not worth overpaying for. The Dodgers would probably want relief pitching in return.

      • BK

        Taylor is in his second year of arbitration with the Dodgers offering $5.25M and Taylor seeking $5.8M. He’s controlled for 2 more years. Given his limited at bats, I would think one of our relievers, Iglesias or Lorenzen, would match nicely in terms of contract amount, control and expected WAR. It probably takes a prospect, but not top tier, to balance the trade.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Thanks for pointing that out BK. I must have misread the contract info on bb-ref site.

      • BK

        Taylor is an intriguing idea. SS is the biggest area where the Reds can improve. Even an incremental improvement would be helpful.

  19. vegastypo

    Apart from the Brock Holt talk, but I thought it was interesting to read what the Red Sox are supposedly demanding for Mookie Betts. From an article on MLB.com:

    “Per Buster Olney, any deal for Betts must include David Price, with the acquiring team taking on most or all of the $96 million still owed to the left-hander over the next three seasons. And that’s not all. The Red Sox also are asking for two high-end prospects.”

    Which is a longer way of saying, Betts isn’t going anywhere.

  20. KDJ

    Doug (or for one of your colleagues),
    I have read this site enough to know to take defensive metrics with some caution.
    However, do you have a guideline as to how much 0.050 in OBP is worth in terms of lost defensive runs saved? Or, if player A gets on base 25 more times than player B in 500 at bats, but makes 10 more errors over the course of a season, how does that measure up?

    • Doug Gray

      There’s not a straight forward guide. It would probably vary depending on the position played. A shortstop or second baseman, for example, are almost never going to be responsible for saving, or allowing extra-base hits. A first or third baseman, however, could be on ones that get by them down the line. Outfielders are responsible for saving/allowing extra-base hits, too. And of course, the hitting side matters, too. Where’s that 50 points of OBP coming from? Walks? Extra hits? And if it’s extra hits, are those almost all singles? Or are they a good mix of singles and extra-base hits?

      Unfortunately there are just too many variables to give a good answer.