The Boston Red Sox need a first baseman and some power that will stretch past next season. Davis could be that option, but should that mean at all cost?
David Ortiz, the face of the franchise, is retiring after the 2016 season. This platform has already discussed the possibility of adding Chris Davis to the lineup to make up for the power that will be leaving the team. Davis is also a first baseman, which is a gaping wound in the Red Sox infield, and would look a heck of a lot better than Hanley Ramirez, a gaping wound of injuries all his own, who has been designated for the role for now.
Does that mean that Boston should do everything in their power to acquire Davis?
Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald certainly thinks so. In a recent article, Mastrodonato mentions how the Red Sox have the resources to tempt the Baltimore Orioles into a trade, if they believe that Davis will want to sign with another team: “If the Red Sox were to offer a cheap starting pitcher such as Roenis Elias or Joe Kelly, would the O’s be willing to take on some, if not most, of Ramirez’ $66 million remaining salary? For the Red Sox, this would free up funds to go after Davis and add the most potent left-handed hitter in the game.”
Let’s back the proverbial truck up for a second.
True, Han-Ram does look like he needs to be wrapped in Nerf in order to stay away from injuries; however, in 2017, he looks set to replace Ortiz as the designated hitter. Considering the big reason for bringing him in last year was to add his bat, not his defence, you can’t blame Boston for being a little hesitant on giving up on the experiment. Granted that Hanley only hit .249 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs, and he’s projected to hit .273 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs next season, but those numbers are based on an injury-plagued season.
When healthy, Ramirez had a hot bat, bashing .293 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in April. That could be April of 2017 as a designated hitter, a role suited for a player who doesn’t need the wear and tear on his body.
Then there’s Elias and Kelly. Between August and September, Kelly finally found his form that the Red Sox saw in him when they made the John Lackey trade for him and Allen Craig, a few years ago. Kelly went 8-0 in nine starts, striking out 42 batters to only 17 walks. He gave up 17 runs, which equates to 1.89 runs per start and a run for only 33% of his total innings. As far as Elias goes, he was on a weak Seattle Mariners team for two seasons, but he was able to earn 97 strikeouts to only 44 walks in 115.1 innings. With him being left-handed, Elias makes for an intriguing cog in the bullpen machine, which malfunctioned heavily last season. If he shows his potential, Elias would move up the relief ranks ahead of some other lefties who did not exactly dominate.
Does anyone want to give any of that up on the off-chance that Davis may sign with the Red Sox?
If a packaged deal was done with the Orioles, it would be to unload Ramirez’ hefty salary. It’s not like anything significant would be coming back to Boston, considering that money would then be spent on signing Davis. Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun reported that Davis still has not agreed to the “seven-year, $150 million offer” that the Orioles made him earlier in the off-season. Per year, that will be a huge chunk of change.
Not that Davis isn’t worth it. Mastrodonato said, “[Davis] has more home runs (159) than any other player since 2012.” However, Mastrodonato also points out the biggest issue: “The risk? He was a nobody before that season, just a prospect with mega power who couldn’t stop striking out. And between hitting 53 homers in 2013 and 47 homers in 2015, he hit just .196 with 26 homers and 176 strikeouts in 2014.”
As much as many of us in Red Sox Nation have had the pitchforks ready to run Ramirez out of town, a scenario of trading Hanley for a possibility that may never occur seems sketchy. It would be one thing for the Red Sox to sign Davis first and then complete a trade, to any team, with Ramirez packing his bags; however, unloading a power bat in the hopes of gaining one, with no guarantees, could compound the problem for Boston if Davis doesn’t sign or if he plays like he did in 2014.
If both deals happen, the risky move could be one of the best decisions that Boston has made in the last few years. The move could also be a nightmare, making fans wonder what might have been if Hanley kept hitting, Kelly kept winning, or Elias kept striking people out.