It’s in the best interest of the Boston Red Sox to start keeping their eye out for potential replacements for designated hitter David Ortiz, whose contract expires at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
It’s easy to think that Ortiz will likely return to Boston for at least another season, but things don’t always work out. He’s been his usual self this season, hitting .318/.415/.611 with 23 home runs, 60 RBI and 65 runs. The problem is that Ortiz has been battling an Achilles injury for majority of the season.
Do the Red Sox really need to sign a full-time DH that will turn 37 years old in November?
Yes, Ortiz still produces like he’s only 31—when healthy—but injuries have started to catch up with him and it may not be worth the price that he’ll be asking for. He’s expressed concerns about his contract status in the past and a similar situation will start in the offseason once he’s no longer under contract. He’s owed $14.57 million this season and could ask for a similar contract going forward.
If Boston general manager Ben Cherington is going to make disciplined moves, he should let Ortiz walk in free agency and give his job to Mauro Gomez.
Most Red Sox fans should know who Gomez is. He’s been up and down throughout the minors over the course of the season, usually due to an injury. What most Red Sox fans wouldn’t know about Gomez is that he was just named the Most Valuable Player of the Triple-A International League, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
Now excuse me if I’m wrong, but that’s a pretty big deal. He’s the most valuable player in the entire league and yet he’s rarely mentioned in any discussion regarding the Red Sox. It’s not like he won the MVP as a shortstop either. Gomez won it as an everyday DH. Wouldn’t you want someone like that to replace Ortiz, should Boston let him walk? I sure would.
In 100 games with Triple-A Pawtucket, Gomez hit .310/.371/.589 with 24 home runs, 74 RBI and 65 runs. It’s the second year in a row that he’s hit at least 24 home runs in a season and the fourth time he’s done it over the course of his professional career.
You may not realize this, but Gomez has actually been playing well with the Red Sox too. In 15 games, he’s hitting .327/.386/.462 with five extra-base hits (one home run), six RBI and eight runs. He hasn’t been playing regularly and has still managed to play well when given the opportunity.
Deciding what to do with Ortiz once the season ends will be a very tough decision for Cherington, but he should keep Gomez in the back of his head. He’ll be a star one day if he’s given the chance. He just hasn’t been given it yet.