Brock Holt was identified as one of the top 50 free agents this offseason but has yet to sign. Might he be a perfect fit for the Chicago Cubs?
Brock Holt is not a name that immediately jumps off the page, and general managers aren’t jumping for their phones to discuss a potential contract with him. The 31-year-old was pegged as one of the top 50 free agents this offseason, and with rosters set to expand to 26 men next year, Holt would be a perfect fit for the Chicago Cubs. I could list off all the positions that he plays, but it would be a much shorter list of the positions that he doesn’t play.
Holt would essentially fulfill Ben Zobrist‘s role on the team as the super-utility man while giving the Cubs a terrific left-handed bat off their bench. He was selected in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates but was traded to the Boston Red Sox in December 2012. A slow start last year was due to a scratched cornea, and his rehabilitation was delayed because of right shoulder impingement. He played in 87 games in 2019, posting a .297/.369/.402 with three home runs and 31 RBI (103 wRC+).
The numbers are not going to dazzle anyone, but he’s consistently shown the ability to get on-base and doesn’t strike out a lot. Holt has seen the most time at second base in his career, logging nearly 1800.0 innings and recording a .985 fielding percentage. Second base is a position of need for the Cubs, who have a whole slew of candidates that could be considered for the position. Holt has also played quite a bit in the outfield with a .990 fielding percentage in 1377.0 innings. And while a corner outfield spot seems more likely for him, centerfield is another position that has open competition.
If signed, the Cubs could move Nico Hoerner to centerfield, as they have recently entertained that notion, and Holt could play second base or vice versa. Ian Happ figures to receive the majority of playing time in center next year, but outside of a strong second-half last year, he’s struggled with strikeouts in his young career.
Holt is projected to receive a two-year deal worth approximately $8 million, and the Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested him. The Reds have had quite the offseason and could very well compete for the NL Central crown in 2020, and adding Holt would only help them achieve that goal. However, a team like Cubs, who struggled mightily with their contact rate last year, would greatly benefit from a player like Holt, who has a career 86.5 percent contact rate.
Teams are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, and several attractive free agents remain available. Yes, the Cubs are hindered by their financial condition, but they are doing a disservice to themselves and their fans signing a boatload of minor-league deals and hoping that something sticks.