There was already a debate of whether Pedro Ciriaco or Jose Iglesias should open the season as the backup middle infielder role with the big club. Another element was added to that debate when the Red Sox and Pirates finalized the Joel Hanrahan trade yesterday. Along with giving up Jerry Sands, Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, and Ivan DeJesus (a dark horse contender for that role as well), the Red Sox received middle infielder Brock Holt in the trade. Holt can play second base and shortstop and potentially stronger than either Ciriaco or Iglesias offensively, as well as being strong defensively.
Holt spent most of 2012 in the minors, splitting time between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. Overall, he was stellar in the minors as he batted .344/.406/.453 with 3 home runs and 16 stolen bases. The 24 year old joined the Pirates as rosters expanded on September 1 and made a name for himself with limited playing time. In 24 games for Pittsburgh, he batted .292/.329/.354 spending all of his time at second base.
It’s true that Holt’s minor league numbers in 2012 are unrealistic and are likely never to be seen again. His .465 BABIP with Indianapolis is nothing short of ridiculous, and he did benefit from a high BABIP of .365 in the majors. However, throughout his entire career, he has racked up fairly gaudy BABIP numbers so it may not be as much of a concern as it appears.
Still, there are certainly some issues with Holt. Although it’s possible he’ll put up a decent batting average, he may never show enough power to be much more than a backup infielder. Advanced defensive metrics showed his as slightly below average as a major league second baseman, and with Dustin Pedroia on the team, he may play more shortstop– a considerably more difficult position.
Overall, I think this trade was fairly even for both sides. Joel Hanrahan is a quality closer who will hopefully adjust well to the AL East better than Melancon, who should pitch well in the weak NL Central. There’s a solid chance that one or none of Sands, Pimentel, and DeJesus ever make an impact at the major league level and I think Holt has a better chance than DeJesus or Pimentel. There’s a decent probability that with a potential Stephen Drew injury, we’ll see plenty of Holt next year so hopefully he proves 2012 was no fluke.