The Boston Red Sox suddenly have competition in the race to sign potential free-agent slugger David Ortiz. The Texas Rangers are reportedly interested in the designated hitter as a replacement for Josh Hamilton, who's heading to free agency as well.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports MLB sources still believe the Red Sox are favored to bring back Ortiz, probably through a two-year agreement. But the Rangers are going to join the race if a deal isn't made before the market opening on Friday at midnight.
Ortiz missed most of the season's second half with a nagging Achilles injury, but that clearly hasn't stopped interest from mounting. Given the terrific numbers he posted when healthy, the Red Sox had to know more teams would swoop in if they didn't lock him up.
The 36-year-old Ortiz hit .318 with 23 home runs in just 90 games. His 1.026 OPS was the third-highest total of his career and would have led the major leagues if he would have had enough at-bats to qualify.
He's been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over the past decade. Since 2002, he has hit at least 20 homers in every season and has driven in at least 100 runs six times. That's the type of production the Rangers would need to replace Hamilton.
The talented-yet-unpredictable outfielder is likely to demand a huge contract on the open market. The 2010 MVP has played at an elite level since joining the Rangers in 2008, but carries some baggage that makes a long-term investment in him risky.
He's endured well-documented struggles with addiction, having a relapse as recently as February. Even though he's done a great job overcoming his issues, it's something that remains in the back of every executive's mind.
Going after Ortiz should he hit free agency would be a wise move for the Rangers. He isn't likely to require the same type of long-term investment and should be able to keep Texas' offense running on all cylinders if Hamiltion signs elsewhere, which Rosenthal states is likely.
The Rangers will have to present an intriguing case in order to pry Ortiz away from Boston, but it sounds like they are ready to make the effort.
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