I’d be stating the obvious if I told you the Red Sox willnever be able to replace David Ortiz.
With his retirement, however, the role of designated hitter is up for the taking in Boston. One would think that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would attempt to go outside the organization to fill that hole.
Last week, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined me in-studio for my podcast, and he hinted that perhaps the new DH is already in the organization.
“I think there might be some solutions internally,” said Kennedy, when asked about life after Ortiz.
Sure, there might be. But that wouldn’t be their best available option.
By all indications, the Red Sox would like their new DH to hit from the left side. The obvious in-house left-handed candidate would be Travis Shaw. Or they could make Hanley Ramirez the DH, and turn Shaw into their every day first baseman.
And there’s always the option of working Pablo Sandoval back into the mix. But that should be last resort.
The Red Sox’ best bet is to look elsewhere, andI’m not talking about a trade. Save the prospects and roster trade-bait for a deal that will land you a pitcher who can win in October.
I’m talking about signing a free agent. And no, not Pedro Alvarez. The Sox have been linked to him in rumors this offseason, especially after Carlos Beltran signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Houston Astros.
Alvarez just doesn’t do it for me. Sure, he’s left-handed, will turn 30 in February, and could probably come at a discount. But he’s a career .238 hitter who had just 49 RBI last year. I’m all set.
I want the big splash. I want the top prize. I want the guy who’s going to hit 40 home runs and drive in 120 runs. I don’t care that he hits from the right side of the plate, or that it’s going to cost over $100 million to get him.
I want Edwin Encarnacion in Boston.
Recent reports suggest that Encarnacion rejected a four-year, $80 million deal to stay in Toronto, and that he’s asking for $125 million over five years.
As I write this, Encarnacion is still a free agent during the early stages of this week’s Winter Meetings. If the Red Sox wanted to do everything they can to ease the pain of losing Ortiz, then they should pay Encarnacion to be their DH in 2017.
The only holdup would be the fact that Toronto made him a qualifying offer, so it would also cost the Sox a first-round pick. But that shouldn’t be the deal-breaker. If anything, it should be used as part of Dombrowski’s negotiation with Encarnacion’s agent. Use that first round pick in order to meet in the middle.
Encarnacion rejected $20 million a year and asked for $25 mill. He rejected a four-year deal and wanted a fifth. Tell him you’ll give him $22 million a year over four years. Maybe you settle on $23 million a year over four years, with an option on the fifth year, which could come out to either a four-year, $92 million deal, or a five-year, $115 million deal.
I’d make that deal in a second. The guy turns 34 in January. He’s hit at least 34 home runs in each of the last five seasons, while driving in over 100 runs in all but one of those five years — he had 98 RBI in 2014.
Seeing him swing the bat for the Blue Jays last season — 42 home runs and 127 RBI — it’s hard to believe he’s just going to stop producing. It’s the power bat that the Red Sox need, after losing Ortiz to retirement. And, if need be, he can play first base.
Seems like a no-brainer to me. Unless you’re one of those people who complains about money. If so, the only advice I have for you is: get over it.
Because the Red Sox have plenty of money to spend, and if they can’t spend it on Ortizthey might as well spend it on a guy who’s going to hit 40 home runs a season.
Sure, they’ll never be able to replace Ortiz. But Encarnacion is the Red Sox’ best available option to help ease the pain as much as they can.