The Nationals signed utility infielder Brock Holt on Saturday to add needed depth. They optioned left-handed pitcher Ben Braymer to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg to make room for Holt on the 28-man active roster. Starlin Castro was moved to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.
Holt will join the team in Boston, where he played seven of his nine seasons. He finished eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 before becoming an All-Star in 2015 despite finishing the season with just a .727 OPS. He most recently was let go by the Milwaukee Brewers after a dismal offensive performance (.100 batting average) in very limited opportunities (30 at-bats).
“It’s a guy that I really liked over the years,” Davey Martinez said. “We think he can help. He’s going to get a chance to play everywhere here.”
The Nationals started spring training in February with a packed infield. Howie Kendrick, Ryan Zimmerman and Eric Thames were all options at first base. Asdrúbal Cabrera and Carter Kieboom were set to work at third base. Trea Turner would play shortstop every day. Castro would play second base every day.
But, then the designated hitter spot was added. Zimmerman chose not to play this season. Castro broke his wrist. Kieboom was sent to the alternate training site after he struggled. Cabrera has played far more often than the Nationals would prefer. Kendrick’s hamstring tightness caused him to miss eight days. A surplus quickly thinned to not enough.
Which first led to the signing of Josh Harrison, then Holt, two players who now give Martinez a plethora of options.