Red Sox

In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

The transactions came in quick succession as the winter meetings wrapped on Thursday in San Diego. First, the Red Sox selected infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. A couple of hours later, they inked infielder Jose Peraza to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Both are utility infielders, and their arrivals increase the likelihood that we'll be saying goodbye to Brock Holt this winter. 

From a bottom-line perspective, it's hard to argue. Holt turns 32 in June, has battled injuries the past four years and should make more than $3 million annually on a multi-year deal. The Red Sox need to get younger and cheaper, and that includes the bench.

If this is it, though, Holt deserves more of a sendoff than a line in the transaction wire, because his impact on the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the community far outstripped his modest 5-foot-10 frame.

From high school (where he barely broke 100 pounds as a freshman) to junior college to Rice University to the major leagues, Holt beat long odds each step of the way. That a throw-in acquired with Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan before the 2013 season could earn Rookie of the Year votes and then make an All-Star team defied reason. That the same player would hit for the cycle not once, but twice -- including in the postseason -- while winning two World Series and becoming a gritty heart-and-soul fan favorite, let's just say guys hit that lottery maybe once in a generation.

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"I know and I've kind of gotten a taste of it coming here that certain players just really seem to bond with the fan base," said new baseball boss Chaim Bloom. "He's certainly been one of those. That's not something that's lost on any of us."

Holt brought a fun-loving energy to a clubhouse that needed it in good times and bad. Boston can be a meat grinder even when things are going well, and supporting players who take the edge off are essential. Kevin Millar mastered that role in 2004, while Jonny Gomes followed suit in 2013. That was Holt's job, too, whether he was serving as Andrew Benintendi's All-Star publicist, re-christening the 10th month on the calendar as Brocktober, or wearing a Cobra Kai-inspired headband around the locker room that others soon copied.

Holt had a knack for cracking up his teammates. After Mitch Moreland's three-run homer delivered the team its first win of 2019 in Seattle, Holt sauntered past Moreland in the clubhouse with an ice cream cone, gave it a lick, and said, "Hey Mitch, my mom says, 'Way to go,'" and then just walked out. (His mom later confirmed this account on Twitter).

He famously asked a shorts-wearing Bill Belichick if he was, "going to put some pants on," before facing the Packers on a cold October night in 2018 when the Red Sox were honored by the Patriots as World Series champions.

The night he completed the first cycle in postseason history with a ninth-inning home run to complete a rout of the Yankees, the megawatt smile on Holt's face as he rounded third and returned to the dugout could've powered the sun.

Holt's joyful persona extended to his toddler son, Griff, a glasses-clad Instagram star who developed a cult following for giggling while raiding a box of Life Cereal in the pantry, or pointing at a billboard of David Ortiz and exclaiming, "Big Papi!" or hitting what he called, "Big bomb!" with an oversized whiffle ball bat.

Holt's many viral moments with his son became all the more poignant when viewed through the lens of his tireless devotion to children's causes. He's a four-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for community service, and he routinely leads the Red Sox in charitable appearances. He served as Jimmy Fund captain for the past five years, and his Brock Stars ticket program brought a Jimmy Fund patient to every Tuesday home game for batting practice. Director of community relations Sarah Narracci has long referred to Holt as her "go-to guy" who never says no.

"He has a great heart," manager Alex Cora said when Holt was nominated for this year's Clemente award, and if this is indeed the end of Holt's Red Sox career, he'll leave an outsized legacy that "5-10, 180" doesn't begin to capture.

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Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

The Boston Red Sox are still anxiously awaiting the results of an MLB investigation into sign-stealing in 2018, part of a scandal that has marred the team and all of baseball the past two months.

The allegations against the Red Sox led to the departure of manager Alex Cora. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have been hit with some harsh penalties for a sign-stealing scandal of their own. They fired their manager, A.J. Hinch, after he was suspended for a year by MLB. Cora was a part of Hinch's staff in 2017 as bench coach when the scheme to use real-time video to steal opponents' signals began.

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MLB's delays in the Red Sox investigation have led some to speculate that the probe may not find much. And in a recent interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler said that MLB wouldn't find "anything close to what's going on [in Houston]."

"I don’t know what [MLB] is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on [in Houston], Kinsler said, as transcribed by MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo. “The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

This is the most detailed that any Red Sox player has been about the allegations to date, and with good reason. Kinsler is retired, so he doesn't stand to lose anything by talking now.

While Kinsler's depiction of the Red Sox sign-stealing is far from damning, he did acknowledge that while watching his previous at-bat on tape, he would check out the signs to see if he could de-code them.

“If there’s a video and you’re going to check out your at-bat and while you’re checking out your at-bat, there’s a runner on second base also, and you look through your at-bat to see your personal flaws and what you’re trying to fix for the next time… I’m going to go back again and check out the signs and see if I can crack them,” Kinsler said. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

That's somewhat of a gray area, as all MLB teams have access to video in-game. So, it will certainly be interesting to see what the MLB rules on this aspect of the allegations and what they may do to curb in-game video going forward.

Still, as Kinsler said, he doesn't think that the Red Sox are going to get anything more than "a small punishment," as the league won't find anything "substantial".

“I’m interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they’re not going to find anything that’s substantial,” he said. “They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don’t know. I don’t know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don’t see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team.”

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt has left the Boston Red Sox, but it certainly doesn't seem like he wanted to.

The super-utility player became a free agent and the Red Sox opted not to re-sign him as they looked to cut costs ahead of the 2020 season. So, Holt, who turns 32 in June, lingered for a while on the free-agent market after seven seasons with the Red Sox before ultimately agreeing to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

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And in an interview after arriving at the Brewers camp in Arizona, Holt spoke about wanting to remain in Boston and never expecting to go anywhere else in his career.

"I was with Boston for so long and I honestly never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform," Holt said in a video captured by Scott Grodsky. "I loved it there. I loved playing at Fenway, I loved the fans, I loved the city. I was a huge part of the community so it was tough for me to come to the fact that I wasn't going back.

"But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I'm excited to be here."

Holt's former Red Sox teammate Travis Shaw, who played for the Brewers from 2017 to 2019 before signing this offseason with the Toronto Blue Jays, helped convince Holt to join the Brewers.

“[Holt] actually reached out to me about a week or two ago saying that the Brewers had some interest and that they were starting to talk,” Shaw told The Wisconsin Sports Zone radio station. “He was just asking about how the organization was and I gave him nothing but positive things.

“Brock is one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever played with," Shaw said. "He keeps it loose in the clubhouse. Obviously he is a great player, he can play all over the diamond, but just his presence in the clubhouse and in the dugout, he keeps things loose and he keeps things fun.”

Holt was a fan favorite and a great force in the Red Sox locker room and community. He will certainly be missed by the team, and it is fair to wonder why Sox management decided not to at least try to match the one-year deal Holt got from Milwaukee. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Holt made $3.575 million with the Red Sox last season.

After all, they opened up some room under the luxury tax by trading Mookie Betts and David Price. So, why not use some of that to re-sign Holt?

Holt will now suit up for the Brewers and as he communicated to reporters, he is very much looking forward to playing at Fenway June 5-7 when the Brewers visit for an interleague series.

And he's sure to get a warm welcome when he returns.