Red Sox Predictions: Edwin Encarnacion Will Fill David Ortiz’s Shoes in 2017
Red Sox Should Recruit Veteran Slugger Edwin Encarnacion to Replace the Soon-To-Be Retired David Ortiz
Even if the Boston Red Sox do not win the World Series, 2017 will be a memorable year for the fans and the players. Once the season concludes, slugger David Ortiz will be retiring after playing 13 years with the Sox and 19 years in Major League Baseball. Sad as it may be to see him go, Boston is going to need to find a designated hitter with a powerful bat during the 2016-2017 offseason who will be able to fill Ortiz’s shoes.
As mentioned by fellow BoSox Injection writer Sean Penney back in January, the Boston Red Sox are already looking at the 2017 free agent market. Two players who immediately stand out are Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Both are currently with the Toronto Blue Jays and both will be free agents after this upcoming season. Lastly, as Bleacher Report predicted, a “logical landing spot” for both of them is Boston.
So, why will the Red Sox go with Encarnacion over Bautista? There a few reasons. For one, Bautista is an outfielder. The Red Sox has a surplus of young, talented outfielders currently on the roster as well as some top outfield prospects waiting in the minor leagues. Adding another outfielder to the mix would just take away depth from another position.
Encarnacion, on the other hand, is already an appointed designated hitter and is accustom to that role. Over the past three season, he has split his time between first base and DH. Additionally, he has hit more consistently when he bats as a designated hitter as opposed to a first baseman. Ortiz will ultimately vacate the designated hitter role and it would be ideal for the Sox to fill that void with a player who is use to being a DH.
It is also a plus that Encarnacion can play first base. Whoever takes over for Ortiz on the roster will need to field at that position from time to time. Bautista has very little experience at first. Over the last three years, Bautista has only had 44 at-bats when he has fielded at first.
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Besides Encarnacion’s extensive experience as a designated hitter and first baseman, he will be 34 by the start of the 2017 season while Bautista will be 36. If the Red Sox are going to sign one of these sluggers to an extended contract, it is more beneficial to sign the younger player because it is expected he will be a successful ballplayer for a longer period of time.
Lastly, Encarnacion has been extremely consistent over the last handful of years. His OPS has not dropped below .900 and he has hit more than 30 homers and 95 RBI throughout each the past four seasons. If his offense continues to be consistent this upcoming season, the Red Sox should try to sign this veteran as soon as possible.
There was some worry that the Blue Jays would try to retain Encarnacion and sign him to a long term contract before the 2016 season begins. However, Encarnacion told the media that he is not optimistic that an agreement will be reached before April 3 and Encarnacion does not want to discuss a potential contract during the regular season. This could leave the door wide open for the Red Sox to swoop in and sign this power-hitting DH for 2017.
Even though no one wants to think about Ortiz’s retirement, it is just a fact that the BoSox are going to need to deal with replacing him during the 2016-2017 offseason. At least the Red Sox are planning ahead and already thinking about potential players who could take Ortiz’s spot on the roster. If the Jays do not sign Encarnacion to a long term in the next couple of weeks, do not be surprised if he dons a Boston uniform in 2017.
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Should the Red Sox go after Edwin Encarnacion this offseason? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!