Brock Holt Gives Red Sox Potential Sleeper Utility Player

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 7:  Brock Holt #2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ground ball against the Chicago Cubs during the game on September 7, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

While the Boston Red Sox acquisition of Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates (h/t CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) on Wednesday is going to get most of the attention, the "other" player in the deal, Brock Holt, could make more of an impact in the long run. 

#redsox announce they have acquired hanrahan and brock holt in 6 player trade

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 26, 2012

Hanrahan has already been named the Red Sox closer, which is something that teams are apparently required to make clear because saves are the greatest and most important stat in the history of the world.

However, with his escalating salary and less-than-ideal splits (righties had a .354 on-base and .409 slugging percentage off him in 2012), not to mention the fact he gave up eight home runs in just 59.2 innings makes him a bust waiting to happen as he transfers from the meager National League Central to the brutal American League East. 

On the other hand, Holt brings almost no expectations with him to Boston. He wasn't a highly regarded prospect in a good Pirates' system, but he is just 24 years old and has a history of producing at every level of the minors. 

Holt doesn't have any power, which isn't a surprise given his 5'8", 165-pound frame, yet he has never posted an on-base percentage lower than .356 in his four seasons at the minor league level. He makes contact, striking out just 206 times in 1,436 at-bats. 

Another problem Holt faces, aside from being unable to drive the ball, is that he doesn't have a position. He can handle himself at second base, though he probably isn't going to hit enough to be a regular there in the future. 

The best role for Holt will probably end up being that of a super-utility infielder, though his arm and range might not work at shortstop. He played the position in high school, but was transferred to second base in college at Rice. 

No matter what role the Red Sox use Holt in, he has a very good shot at turning into a useful bat, even in limited duty, because of his ability to make contact and get on base. 

Considering what the Red Sox gave up for Hanrahan and Holt, basically a lot of spare parts and a soon-to-be expensive relief pitcher, they made out pretty well in the deal. Hanrahan will be the key to the deal in year one, but Holt has far more long-term value. 

Holt can spell Dustin Pedroia at second base when he needs a day off—or gets hurt, as he did in 2012—so he gives the Red Sox depth that they sorely lacked when everything fell apart last season. 

A lot of what the Red Sox have done this offseason has been puzzling, but this deal with the Pirates is a smart, under-the-radar move that at least gives the team options.