Winter Meetings

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.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"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.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

MLB rumors: Tampa ties make Dodgers, Angels strong contenders to acquire David Price

MLB rumors: Tampa ties make Dodgers, Angels strong contenders to acquire David Price

SAN DIEGO -- David Price made his name in Tampa Bay. Could he be reunited with either of the two architects of those breakout Rays teams this offseason?

The rumor mill is churning at the winter meetings, and according to a pair of rival executives, the Dodgers and Angels are considered prime landing spots if Price is moved this winter, partly because Price has a personal connection to both teams.

The Dodgers are run by Andrew Friedman, who drafted Price first overall out of Vanderbilt in 2007 while serving as Tampa's executive vice president of baseball operations. Price was one of the foundational pieces of Tampa's rise to prominence on Friedman's watch.

The Angels, meanwhile, just hired Joe Maddon to be their manager. He was Tampa's skipper when Price debuted in 2008 and reached the World Series, and he was still at the helm when the Rays traded Price to the Tigers in 2014.

Both men had strong relationships with Price, according to multiple sources, and would be open to a reunion.

A lot has to happen before Price changes teams, though. The Dodgers and Angels have been aggressive on the starting pitching market, despite losing the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes to the Yankees. The Dodgers have reportedly turned their attention to free-agent lefty Madison Bumgarner, while the Angels must upgrade one of the worst rotations in baseball. No Angels pitcher reached 20 starts last year and the starting ERA of 5.64 ranked last in the AL.

At this point, their interest is simply the stuff of rumors. Price may not be anything more than a fallback for either organization, and a number of solid starters remain unsigned, including Bumgarner, defending NL ERA champ Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel.

If the Angels or Dodgers eventually turn their attention to Price, it wouldn't come as a surprise. Friedman and Maddon oversaw the best seasons of Price's career. He went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA in parts of seven seasons with the Rays, making four All-Star teams and winning a Cy Young Award.

He has had a tougher go in Boston, but he did exorcise one demon by leading the Red Sox to a World Series in 2018 with a dominant postseason.

Any team acquiring him will have to be comfortable assuming all or most of the three years and $96 million remaining on his contract.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

When it comes to Mookie Betts' future with Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts is just as clueless as rest of us

When it comes to Mookie Betts' future with Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts is just as clueless as rest of us

SAN DIEGO -- Xander Bogaerts was born within a week of Mookie Betts in October of 1992, but that doesn't stop him from feeling like the former MVP's big brother.

And so it is that All-Star shortstop -- named a starter on the inaugural all-MLB team on Tuesday -- finds himself conflicted about Betts' future.

On the one hand, Bogaerts wants what's best for Betts, and if that means scoring a record payday in free agency, then so be it. On the other hand, if the Red Sox decide they're not the team to pay him, then Betts could be traded this winter.

"Obviously he's been a huge part of our organization and coming up through the system, and playing so many years with him, and the type of player that he is on and off the field," Bogaerts said. "He's so good on the field, but he's just even better off the field. I know we're pretty much the same age, but I still feel like I'm his older brother by a little bit. He's one of the best players in the game. It would be sad to see him leave. Hopefully, they can find a way to work things out, but Mookie's a grown man now, and he knows what decisions are in his best interests."

What the Red Sox plan to do with Betts remains the most pressing question at the winter meetings, but they don't seem to be feeling much urgency. On Tuesday, an executive with a team that has interest in the right fielder expressed mild surprise that the Red Sox hadn't yet engaged, suggesting that the Sox aren't aggressively shopping him, at least not yet.

It's possible the market for Betts will heat up once the best free-agent position player -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon -- finds a new home. The Dodgers have been linked to both Rendon and Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, who could be traded. If they miss out on both, Betts would be a natural target.

The same goes for the Angels, who reportedly offered right-hander Gerrit Cole nearly $300 million before he signed a record deal with the Yankees. The Angels are also reportedly in on Rendon as they look to upgrade a roster that desperately needs to add talent around MVP Mike Trout, although neither Betts nor Rendon would upgrade their biggest weakness, which is starting pitching.

Bogaerts will watch the saga unfold from afar like the rest of us, hoping against hope that the Red Sox find a way to keep the five-tool outfielder who's technically six days his junior (Oct. 1 vs. Oct. 7).

"I know there's a lot of stories, a lot of stuff being said about the team and what moves we should and shouldn't do," Bogaerts said. "I know there's a lot. I can't keep up with it all, but we'll see what happens. Once spring training comes around, we'll have a better idea obviously of where we are as a team. As of now, I'm also waiting."

And if this is it for Betts, at least Bogaerts will have one final memory. When Betts scored from first on a deflected single to walk off the Orioles on the final day of the 2019 season, Bogaerts was the first player to greet him at the plate.

"I was in that picture when he got the last run of the year last year," he said, "so that will be a nice picture if he's gone."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.