If contract offers are the baseball equivalent to getting asked to the big dance, the Boston Red Sox have left Bryan Holaday sitting alone on his couch on prom night. Holaday is the only Red Sox player to be non-tendered, effectively leaving him a free agent for the 2016 season. This probably won’t come as a shock to anyone who watched Holaday play for the Red Sox last season, but it does leave him available, and there are a few good reasons the Tigers might want to give Holaday a second look.
For one thing, Holaday’s numbers are better with the Tigers. In 2015 he had an average of .281/.359/.453, whereas the following season his combined numbers with the Texas Rangers and the Red Sox were .231/.281/.359. This could just be a natural decline, but it could also indicate that Holaday plays better when he’s in Detroit. He also spent four seasons with the Tigers, three of them seeing semi-regular play, and one as the full-time back-up catcher to Alex Avila. He knows some of the pitching staff well, and previously worked with Cy Young caliber talent like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and David Price. He knows how to handle a pitching staff, and in particular the Tigers pitching staff. He’d be a natural fit to rejoin the team, working back-up for James McCann.
In general, he’s an average-at-best hitter, but the Tigers haven’t typically gotten much better than average out of their catchers. If we look at his career numbers he’s on par with most of the other Tigers catchers from the last five years. His caught stealing percentage is actually better than Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s, which is more valuable to the Tigers than his batting average.
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For a team looking to cut costs, but maintain quality, picking up Holaday could be a coup. He didn’t dazzle anyone in 2016, but even as a free agent he’d likely cost considerably less than what Alex Avila’s going rate will be, for roughly the same quality. If the Tigers need a back up catcher option that won’t force them to break the bank, Holaday might be a smart bet.
Plus, who can forget how much fun he was to have around at team parties?