The Nationals signed do-it-all infielder-outfielder Brock Holt to a one-year contract on Saturday to add versatility to their lineup. He was released by the Brewers on Wednesday.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Nats transferred second baseman Starlin Castro (broken right wrist) to the 60-day injured list. They also optioned left-hander Ben Braymer, their No. 24 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va., the day after he made his Major League debut.
Washington has constructed its roster on flexibility. Holt, 32, has played all defensive positions except for pitcher and catcher over his nine-year career: second base (243), third base (140), left field (109), right field (81), shortstop (59), first base (36 games), center field (12) and designated hitter (nine).
“Excited to be here,” Holt said on Sunday. “Excited to be a part of this team, a part of this organization. I’m looking forward to helping out however and wherever I can.”
Much like Josh Harrison, whom the Nationals acquired earlier this season, Holt can be plugged in virtually anywhere in the lineup. There are opportunities for playing time, particularly in the infield. The Nats assigned their No. 1 prospect, third baseman Carter Kieboom, to the alternate training site on Wednesday. Their No. 2 prospect, Luis García, has been starting at second base since the injury to Castro.
“I love those kind of players, I really do,” manager Dave Martinez said of Harrison and Holt. “If one day we have to give Cabby [Asdrúbal Cabrera] a break, or one day we have to give Howie [Kendrick] a break, [Holt] fits right in. … When these guys become available, they’re nice to have. They fit, and they can fit everywhere.”
Holt gives the Nats a sought-after left-handed bat. In 2019, he hit .297 with 77 hits, 31 RBIs and 14 doubles over 87 games in his seventh and final season with the Red Sox. Holt became the only player in Major League history to hit for the cycle in a playoff game during Game 3 of the 2018 American League Division Series against the Yankees. He won a World Series that season, and also was named an All-Star in '15.
“He’s a guy that I really liked over the years,” Martinez said. “We think he can help -- he can play multiple positions, he can swing the bat. He’s going to get a chance to play everywhere here.”
The timing of the signing was extremely convenient for Holt. He and his family remained in the Boston area following his tenure with the Red Sox, noting their connection and involvement in the community. So when Holt signed with the Nats, he was only a 20-minute drive from Fenway Park.
“This is a special place for me,” Holt said. “So to be here right now is pretty cool.”
He’ll get to know Nationals Park, too, when the team returns home from their 10-day road trip next Monday.
Cabrera reliable in fourth spot
Martinez changed up the Nationals' lineup on Friday and placed Juan Soto in the second spot, followed by Kendrick. The result: back-to-back home runs against the Red Sox.
Martinez stuck with the same tandem in Saturday's lineup, which included the switch-hitting Cabrera batting fourth for the 12th game this season. So what does Martinez like most about Cabrera, who entered Saturday tied with Trea Turner for second-most RBIs on the team (17), in that spot?
“He’s good from both sides,” Martinez said. “When you’re making out these lineups, having a switch-hitter in between guys makes the manager from the other team a lot harder to strategize, because he’s actually good from both sides. I kind of like him in the middle of that lineup. He’s always driven in runs, and he’s good at it.”