Brock Holt will be released
How it could happen:
This is a tough one given that the Brock Star has become a fan-favorite. It may not happen by Opening Day but a plausible scenario exists where Holt gets designated for assignment during the season.
It’s been quite a fall from grace for the 2015 All-Star. Holt took a step back at the plate the following year before falling off a cliff last season. He hit .200 with a .548 OPS in 64 games.
Holt suffered from vertigo and concussion symptoms last year. His dismal production can be partially explained by attempting to play through those issues. He’s capable of bouncing back but he has a lot to prove to warrant a spot on this roster.
The re-signing of Nunez will cut into Holt’s playing time. He’s a better hitter than Holt was in his best days. Deven Marrero provides a vastly superior glove at multiple infield positions. When Marco Hernandez returns from a shoulder injury he’ll provide another suitable utility option, while Tzu-Wei Lin lurks in Triple-A waiting for his chance.
Holt is capable outfielder but he won’t displace any of the starters on a regular basis. Martinez would jump at the chance to ditch the DH role to take over a corner outfield spot if an injury were to sideline one of Boston’s starting trio. Swihart can also play the outfield.
Holt’s value stems from his versatility but that skillset is negated by Boston’s depth. A decent batting average with very little power is Holt’s ceiling. That’s no longer enough to warrant a roster spot.
The $2.225 million Holt is owed in 2018 won’t count toward the luxury tax if he’s released before the season. Boston could save some money and create breathing room under the steepest tier of tax penalties by moving on from Holt. That extra wiggle room could prove useful if the team needs to make a deadline deal to load up for the stretch run.
Holt has a minor league option remaining but at this point in his career, it would be an insult to send him back to Pawtucket. They would be doing him a favor by releasing him to allow him to try to latch on with another team that can offer a secure role.