Pedro Ciriaco filled in about as well as the Red Sox could have ever hoped or imagined last season, becoming one of the few bright spots on the team and part of the select group of players that actually exceeded expectations for Boston.
The Red Sox, however, seemed to be infatuated with Brock Holt, using him all over the field and giving the impression that they might be looking at his bat coming off of the bench as a difference maker for the team.
The 27-year-old Ciriaco protects the Red Sox at shortstop and third base, while also allowing them to pinch-run and give Dustin Pedroia a break when needed. Coming to the Red Sox as a free agent, he performed very well in his first extensive action at the major league level.
Holt looked to be a throw-in to Joel Hanrahan deal when it was first announced, but he had put up some solid numbers in the minor leagues and profiled as more of a bench player than a prospect.
The 24-year-old Holt has performed well this spring, hitting to a .357 clip and could cover the Red Sox at second base, short and third if needed. Coming on the heels of a small stint with the Pirates last year, when he hit .292, he might provide more pop to the Red Sox than Ciriaco.
Given the scare to Will Middlebrooks earlier this week, Holt would also protect the Red Sox if Middlebrooks missed any significant time or if the Red Sox wanted to take it easy on him to start the season.
How can both players be unwanted by the Pirates but find a home with the Red Sox?
If Holt ends up being a productive major league player, the Red Sox could have received the best two players in the Hanrahan deal, something that would be hard to imagine.
It is one of the funny things about baseball, something that makes it maddening and great at the same time.
Who will the Red Sox take? It is hard to tell right now. Both players have value and they are productive. Both players could help the Red Sox right now.
But, if Boston opens the season with 12 pitchers, then only one of them is likely to go north with the team.
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