At the end of this season, the Boston Red Sox will say goodbye to David Ortiz, and will start looking for a replacement. One solution could come from inside the organization, like moving Hanley Ramirez to DH, although pursuing big hitting free agents like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran and Mark Trumbo is another option.
Ortiz isn’t playing like someone on his way to the MLB retirement home. The 40-year old made his 10th All-Star game in July, and is hitting .320 (best since 2007) with .635 slugging and 1.047 OPS, both the best in the American League. He has hit 29 home runs, and also leads the American League in doubles with 39 so far this season. He’s been intentionally walked (13 times) more than anyone in the AL as well, just like last year and in 2013.
But if his mind is made up, it’s made up. And the Red Sox need to think about shifting people around, or finding an outside solution. Putting Ramirez at DH is an option. The first baseman is having a very good season, at least compared to his first with the Red Sox, batting .280 with a .810 OPS, hitting 16 home runs. But moving him makes the corner infield spots in some sort of confusing situation. Pablo Sandoval is currently out of the picture, and the Red Sox might not be convinced Travis Shaw is ready. They’re certainly not convinced Yoan Moncada and Sam Travis are ready.
Of the free agents the Red Sox could pursue, Encarnacion and Trumbo are having the best seasons, but will also come at a high price. Encarnacion is hitting .268 with a .910 OPS, clobbering 35 home runs so far, his fifth consecutive season with more than 30, while driving in 101 runners so far. Trumbo is only 30, making his second all-star game this season. He leads the majors with 37 home runs, batting .255 with a career high .842 OPS.
Bautista is having a down year, and the Blue Jays might decide between him and Encarnacion in the end. His batting average and OPS are at their lowest since 2008, when he arrived in Toronto, and teams will need to decide whether it’s a one-year thing, or age catching up to him (he’s almost 36). Napoli already played for the Red Sox, but he seems to be doing fine everywhere else, so maybe another shot in Boston is an option? And Beltran, despite being close to his 40th birthday, is having a terrific season, making the All-Star game and batting .296 with an .862 OPS, hitting 24 home runs for the Yankees and Rangers.