Without David Ortiz in 2017, who should the Red Sox turn to?
By Noah Small
At the end of this season David Ortiz will retire. Who should the Red Sox look to take his spot?
First off, no one can replace David Ortiz. No one has done more for the Red Sox in the history of the franchise. He has won three World Series with the team (and almost single-handedly in 2013) and has been the face of the organization, and Boston, for over a decade. Filling those cleats isn’t nearly as simple as signing the best available free agent, or trading for a superstar. What Big Papi has meant to both this city and franchise is immeasurable.
“The Speech”, you know the one when just after the Boston Marathon bombings Ortiz grabbed the mic and spoke the words everyone needed to hear, is the perfect example of just what kind of leader he has been. He is always ready to step up in the biggest moments, and never willing to back down or shy away.
But, Red Sox Nation is becoming ever more aware that next season, the living legend that is Ortiz, will not be going to bat for them. And in this realization, the questions of just what that will mean and who’s next begin. While no one person can replace Big Papi, the Red Sox do need someone to step into his role in the heart of the order, and cleanup.
Let’s have a look at the options.
The multi-Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron Award winner has always been known for his power, blasting over 40 HRs three times, and 54 in 2010. Bautista is one of the great middle of the order bats in the game, and is an upcoming free agent.
More from David Ortiz
- David Ortiz wants Red Sox to target top free-agent pitcher Justin Verlander
- Drug lord connected to David Ortiz shooting pleads guilty to drug charges
- Tom Brady, Bucs’ recent struggles should make Red Sox fans grateful for how David Ortiz retired
- David Ortiz’s NLCS antics are the ultimate Boston betrayal
- David Ortiz shades Red Sox in NLCS conversation with Kyle Schwarber
Unfortunately, he also turns 36 in October and is looking for a massive payday in the realm of 5 years and $150 million. Obviously, money is no object for the Red Sox, and the lofty demands of Bautista may inhibit Toronto from proceeding with a deal (although they also have plenty of resources), but it is his age that is really the concern. It has also started to show, as Joey Bats has struggled staying on the field this year and is currently still on the DL.
Not to mention, this season his production also wasn’t up to its usual heights, and for these reasons the Red Sox should be wary of signing him and his huge contract.
Encarnacion is on pace to hit 30 home runs for his 5th consecutive season, and 100 RBI in 4 out of those 5 (in 2014 he had 98). The once third-baseman is perfectly suited for the DH role he is currently being utilized in Toronto, as it gets the most out of his bat while eradicating the drawbacks of his fielding. This is why many look at Encarnacion as the “perfect” replacement for No. 34, heck, even Ortiz himself.
"“The Red Sox know that they need to reinforce the middle of the lineup,” Ortiz said during an in-game interview on the FOX broadcast of the All-Star Game. “And sorry Blue Jays, but who better than Encarnacion to do that?”"
Encarnacion seemed to enjoy the fact Ortiz thinks so highly of him; maybe this could aid in the future free agent’s recruitment. Regardless, just like with Bautista the Red Sox will need to pay the 33-year-old a pretty penny, not like that should loom too large-the loss of Ortiz will leave a gaping hole.
Red Sox Minor Leagues
More from BoSox Injection
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Why Red Sox fans should be rooting for Carlos Correa’s Mets deal to go through
- Red Sox exec claims Mookie Betts loss changed management style, but actions say otherwise
- Predicting top Red Sox outfield prospect Ceddanne Rafaela’s timeline to the majors
- How realistic are the Boston Red Sox/Chris Sale trade rumors?
Or, what if the Red Sox were to simply stay as-is? They are a good young team, with what will likely be an improved pitching rotation and bullpen next season, and have the luxury of talent oozing out of their minor leagues. The Red Sox could still field a potent lineup in 2017, especially with the addition of future stars Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada from Double-A Portland. And, that’s without even mentioning the potential force Rafael Devers, or Sam Travis could be in the near future.
Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts also seemingly get better by the game and Jackie Bradley can swing one of the hottest bats in the league for stretches. Even Hanley Ramirez, if given the chance at DH and the ability to bulk back up, could rediscover his power.
There is certainly a case to be made here as well.
The Red Sox will not be short on options to fill the 4. hole going into this free agency, though none of them will fill the cleats David Ortiz leaves. But, if they can make it fit like a size 8 foot in a size 12 boot, that might just be good enough. They have a strong enough lineup as it falls now, and if they are able to add the likes of Edwin Encarnacion they could again put up blistering numbers.
Next: Ortiz's best first half?
The Red Sox should be careful in their decisions to add to this lineup in the coming off-season, and be mindful of the talented youth arriving soon and already present at Fenway. Their first choice should be to go after E-Bomb (Encarnacion) and if that fails, be content with the current roster and addition of their own youth from the minor leagues, while staying away from the horrible contracts that will likely follow Bautista, Beltran, Teixeira, and the others.