As one door closes, another one opens; however, for the Red Sox, that door is merely a crack at this point. Now I know that the season ended just Sunday, but it left a really sour taste in the mouths of Red Sox Nation. Not only did the Sox get swept, but it came at the hands of the Cleveland Indians and former Sox manager, Terry Francona. To go on top of that, the hero for Cleveland in the clincher was, another former Red Sox, Coco Crisp. Crisp laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning that set up a 2-run single by Tyler Naquin, and then stuck the blade in the heart of Boston by pounding a 2-run homer off of Drew Pomeranz.
Sigh. Now, as a result of the early exit, the most beloved member in the history of the storied Red Sox franchise, David Ortiz, has now retired at the age of 40 after the best farewell tour in MLB history; thus, leaving a huge hole in the heart of that Red Sox lineup. So, even though the season ended just a few days ago, let's start to build for 2017 and look at possible replacements for the Red Sox at DH.
1. Edwin Encarnacion - Toronto Blue Jays - (.263-42 HR-127 RBI)
Edwin Encarnacion picked a really good time to have a contract year, as he slugged his way into the MVP discussion (I know he won't win), by drilling 42 bombs and knocking in an AL-lead tying 127 RBI with David Ortiz, all on top of playing a really solid first base in the process. Not only was he a monster in the regular season, he's been a boss in October. In fact, his walk-off home run the other night against Ubaldo Jimenez in the WC game vs. the Orioles is the reason Toronto is in the position they're in.
Now he says he wants to stay at first, so we can assume Hanley would slide to DH if that is the case.
Encarnacion, 33, is primed to make the big bucks this offseason and, given the need for a DH, I pray the Sox oblige to his desires. I expect a contract to be from 3-5 years, racking in an average of $25 million per season.
2. Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays - (.234-22 HR-69 RBI)
Bautista had a year plagued by injuries in 2016, playing in just 116 games. But let's face it, this guy is unreal. The only real downside to him is that he is 35-years-old, therefore he will be demanding a deal that would likely take him to his farewell tour in the year 2020. But, looking at his numbers at Fenway, he hits .276 with 24 home runs and 54 RBI in 66 career games. Now that is less than half of a season and he is putting up full season numbers for some. To go on top of that, he's the biggest bad-ass in the MLB and would be an icon in Boston for the few years he has left.
I say a four-year deal worth around $110 million could entice Joey Bats enough to come south of the border.
3. Mark Trumbo - Baltimore Orioles - (.256-47 HR-108 RBI)
Mark Trumbo was the steal of last offseason. He had been written off after being dealt from the Angels to the Dbacks and then immediately to the Mariners in a span of about 10 months. But the year the Trumbomber had was unbelievable. It took a stretch one cold spell for the average to dip to the .250's but it was hovering around .270-.280 for much of 2016. Trumbo comes in third on my list solely because of the inconsistencies. He's still just 30 and has the bulk of his career still in front of him to wreak havoc on the MLB. It won't come cheap, but Trumbo at Fenway has a .273 average with 6 homers and 18 RBI in 19 games. It's a small sample size, I know, but a dead-pull righty power bat is a guy that could be unbelievable in Beantown.
I suspect a 2-4 year deal where the average intake is roughly $20-$25 million for Trumbo.
4. Carlos Beltran - Texas Rangers - (.295-29 HR-93 RBI)
Adding Beltran is basically a last resort signing for the Sox. If they cannot sign EE, Joey Bats, or Trumbo, they failed... MISERABLY. But it isn't like Beltran is a bad addition; the issue with him is that he will be 40 on April 24th of next year. So the Sox would basically be signing another guy entering his final year of his career, and then the search continues for 2018. Beltran did have a really great year in helping the Yankees reload their farm and helping Texas reach the playoffs before getting swept by the Jays.
I haven't heard anything on his retirement plans, but a one-yearyear deal worth around $15 million could assure he comes back for 2017.
Now obviously the Sox have a candidate of their own in Hanley Ramirez, but he looked really good at first base and that, in my opinion, would be dumb to remove him from unless the replacement is a guaranteed gold glover (i.e. Eric Hosmer).