The Red Sox assigned left-hander Derek Holland to minor league camp earlier today, but the veteran won’t be exercising the opt-out in his minor league contract with the team, NESN’s Will Middlebrooks (Twitter link) was the first to report. A decision hasn’t yet been made about Travis Shaw, but Shaw told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier (Twitter link) that he won’t be exercising the opt-out in his own minors deal since the infielder has been informed that he is “trending” towards breaking camp.
Holland further explained his decision on his own Twitter feed, stating that he “took the [Triple-A] assignment because I’ve only been able to showcase two innings” of actual Grapefruit League action. “It’s a great organization to be apart of so I want to stay and see where this road takes me. Going to be a lot of fun with these guys.“
This is the third time in as many offseasons that Holland has signed a minor league deal, and his previous two contracts resulted in some significant big league action. The southpaw tossed 40 2/3 innings with the Pirates in 2020 and then 49 2/3 frames with the Tigers last year, with a 5.07 ERA to show for his time in Detroit. While Holland’s Statcast numbers weren’t impressive in 2021, his 4.00 SIERA was well below his actual ERA, likely since Holland was snakebit by a .354 BABIP.
Since the lockout prevented from Holland from signing anywhere until March 18, it makes that sense that he would take a bit more time to fully ramp up rather than immediately jump back into the open market. MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports that Holland has another opt-out on May 1 if he hasn’t already been added to the active Red Sox roster.
While nothing is official yet, it makes sense that the Red Sox would retain Shaw as a left-handed hitting complement to prospective starting first baseman Bobby Dalbec. While Dalbec had a terrific finish to the 2021 season, the young slugger has been pretty inconsistent over his 545 career plate appearances, so Shaw can provide some experienced backup.
Shaw is a familiar face in Boston, breaking into the majors with the team in 2015-16 and then returning last season after being claimed off waivers by the Brewers in August. Over a small sample size of 48 PA, Shaw hit well, delivering three home runs and a .238/.319/.524 slash line in his Red Sox return. He also had a clutch pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALDS, advancing the eventual winning run to third base.