18 options for replacing David Ortiz in the Red Sox’ lineup

A shopper's guide for the search for Boston's next designated hitter.

Edwin Encarnacion and his powerful bat have been mentioned by David Ortiz himself as a possible replacement.
Edwin Encarnacion and his powerful bat have been mentioned by David Ortiz himself as a possible replacement. –Nick Turchiaro / USA TODAY Sports


Let’s make this perfectly clear: the Red Sox are looking for a new designated hitter rather than a replacement for David Ortiz. Attempting to replace Big Papi is like trying to replace the battery in an iPhone…you just can’t do it.

Here are some external considerations for you and Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to consider, in alphabetical order:

Pedro Alvarez

Age: Alvarez will be 30 in February.

R/L: Alvarez bats left and throws right.

2016 stats: In 109 games for the Orioles, Alvarez hit 22 homers, drove in 49 runs and had a .249 batting average and a .322 on-base percentage.


2014-2016 stats: In 381 games over the last three seasons, Pedro hit .241 with 67 homers, 182 RBI, and 341 strikeouts.

Position: He has played first and third — neither of them particularly well. At first for the Pirates in 2015, Alvarez had -13 runs saved and made 23 errors.

Pro & con-siderations: Alvarez is pure DH who won’t cost a lot. Then again, you get what you pay for. He is a one-dimensional player who does not bring much to the table.

Jose Bautista

Age: Bautista turned 36 in October.

R/L: Jose is a righty. He hits around .250 against righties over his career, but hit just .238 in 2016.

2016 stats: Hampered by injuries, in 116 games, Jose hit a career worst .234 with 22 homers and 69 RBI.

2014-2016 stats: In 424 games, Bautista hit .259 with 97 homers (11th in the majors) and 286 RBI (14th in the majors). Over that span, he had a .383 OBP (7th in the majors).

Position: Jose has played a number of positions, but it has been a long time since he has played anything other than right field. He is a -14 right fielder.

Pro & con-siderations: Bautista is the longest-tenured member of the Blue Jays. They have made him the $17.2 million qualifying offer, which would exceed the $14 million that Joey Bats has made each of the last five seasons. In 2016, Bautista missed time with a grade 2 turf toe injury, and then with a sprained knee. He is willing to play anywhere and bat anywhere: Last season, he hit leadoff, and batted second, third, and in the clean-up slot. A one-and-done, opt-out contract might be perfect for both parties.

Carlos Beltran


Age: Beltrain turns 40 in April.

R/L: Switch-hitter

2016 stats: Overall, Beltran slashed .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and 93 RBI. In 52 games with the Rangers, Beltran hit .280 with seven home runs and 29 RBI. In 99 games with Yankees, he hit .304 with 22 homers and 64 RBI.

2014-2016 stats: Over 393 games, he had a .271 batting average, 63 homers and 209 RBI.

Position: His Gold Glove days are long behind him, but Beltran isn’t only a designated hitter. He started 67 games in right field last season.

Pro & con-siderations: Beltran has the left-handed bat that Dombrowski would like to balance the righty bats in the Sox’ lineup. Last season, he hit 20 homers in 401 at-bats against righties. With the Rangers, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position. Beltran may be able to play right field in 2017, but he is a negative fielder. If it makes you crazy to have to pinch-run for your DH, please note that Beltran was on second 15 times when a single was hit in 2016 and scored just eight times. There is no draft pick attached to Beltran because he was traded during the 2016 season. In 155 career at-bats at Fenway, Beltran has hit .335 with seven homers. His veteran leadership would fit well in the Sox clubhouse.

Yoenis Cespedes

Age: Yoenis turned 31 in October.

R/L: He is a righty who hit .266 against right-hand pitchers last year, but .341 against lefties.

2016 stats: Cespedes lost time with a quad injury and played just 132 games. He still hit 31 homers with 86 RBI and a .280 batting. He also had a solid .354 OBP.

2014-2016 stats: In 443 games, Cespedes hit .277 with 88 homers and 291 RBI with a .326 OBP. He also struck out 377 times.


Position: Left or right field

Pro & con-siderations: The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo has repeatedly written that the staff in Boston wasn’t crazy about Yoenis. Perhaps a new staff might be worth considering. Cespedes is the best hitter on the market right now. He is best suited for a corner outfield position, which could be available if the Sox move Mookie Betts to center and move Jackie Bradley Jr. in a trade for a pitcher.

Ian Desmond

Age: Desmond turned 31 in September.

R/L: Desmond is a righty who hit .269 against righties last season

2016 stats: Ian hit .285 with 22 homers, 86 RBI and 21 steals.

2014-2016 stats: In 466 games, Desmond hit .258 with 65 homers and 58 steals.

Position: Desmond is pretty much an average shortstop and average centerfielder.

Pro & con-siderations: The Texas Rangers made their qualifying offer to Desmond so he will cost someone a draft choice. He is interesting because he provides some flexibility at two positions and offers a speed alternative. Desmond has four 20 homer/20 steals seasons in the last five years.

Edwin Encarnacion

Age: Encarnacion will be 34 in January.

R/L: Right.

2016 stats: In 160 games, the Blue Jays’ star hit 42 homers. He had a league-leading 127 RBI to go along with a .263 batting average.

2014-2016 stats: He posted a .269 batting average with 115 home runs, 336 RBI, and 318 strikeouts. Only Nelson Cruz hit more than the 115 homers Edwin has slammed over the last three seasons.

Position: Encarnacion is primarily a first baseman, but he can also play the outfield and even third base (if necessary). Wherever he plays, he is a slightly negative fielder.

Pro & con-siderations: Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, anticipates that the first baseman will draw serious interest from as many as 11 teams and ultimately get a contract worth as much as $125 million over five years. Last season, he played at first for 75 games and hit .281 with 22 homers; he was the DH for 86 games and hit .247 with 20 homers. In 50 career games at Fenway, he has 14 homers and 41 RBI. Having received a qualifying offer, he will cost a draft pick. He is an impact bat and a marquee player who Bill James projects as hitting 38 homers in 2017.

Dexter Fowler

Age: Fowler will turn 31 right before the start of the 2017 season.

R/L: A switch-hitter, Fowler hit .270 against righties and .293 against lefties last season.

2016 stats: Fowler hit .276 with 13 homers and 48 RBI. He whiffed 124 times in the 125 games he played. Thanks to his 79 walks, he did have a .393 OBP.

2014-2016 stats: Playing 397 games, Fowler hit .266 with 38 homers and 44 steals.

Position: Fowler is a +2 centerfielder who could enable to the Sox to package Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Pro & con-siderations: It should come as no surprise that Fowler received a qualifying offer from the Cubs. Over his last 52 games of the season, Fowler hit .270 with four triples, five homers and a .389 OBP. He is a solid leadoff batter with some power (13 homers) and some speed (13 steals).

Matt Holliday

Age: Matt will be 37 in January.

R/L: Holliday is a righty who hit .252 against righties last season, but only .233 against lefties.

2016 stats: Matt hit 20 homers for the Cardinals last season, but hit just .246, the lowest batting average of his career. Due to a thumb injury, he was limited to 110 games, up from just the 73 he played in 2015.

2014-2016 stats: In 339 games, Holliday hit .265 with 44 homers and 187 RBI.

Position: Left field, where he was a -4 player.

Pro & con-siderations: You have to like players who have played for the Cardinals, as they frequently have a positive pedigree. But you also have to wonder how much Holliday has left in the tank. The Cards did not offer him an option to return. Defensively, first base is another alternative for him, but the Sox don’t need another DH/1B/poor fielding outfielder, do they? One positive thing to consider, the Sox would move from Big Papi to Big Daddy, which is Matt’s nickname.

Adam Lind

Age: Adam will be 34 in July.

R/L: Lefty.

2016 stats: Lind hit 20 homers, but drove home just 58 and hit .239. His on-base percentage was just .286 (the league average was .316).

2014-2016 stats: In 371 games, Lind hit .271 with 46 homers and 185 RBI.

Position: First base and DH — he is a -6 fielder at first.

Pro & con-siderations: Of his 20 homers, 19 were off righties, but he only hit .239 off righties. However, off righties in 2015, he hit .291. He has platoon potential since he is a lifetime .287 hitter off righties and a .215 hitter off lefties.

Andrew McCutchen

Age: McCutchen turned 30 in October.

R/L: The right-handed McCutchen has a career .317 batting average against lefties and has hit .286 against righties.

2016 stats: Andrew had a disappointing season in 2016, hitting just .256 with 24 homers and 59 RBI.

2014-2016 stats: In 456 games, McCutchen hit .286 with 72 homers and .258 RBI. He had a .382 OBP, and .867 OPS and stole 35 bags.

Position: McCutchen had a disastrous -49 season in centerfield for Pittsburgh last season.

Pro & con-siderations: Would the Pirates consider trading their star player? What would it take the Sox to give up to get him? Was 2016 an anomaly or an indicator? Is he disgruntled or merely gruntled? He is owed $14 million next year and $14.75 million in 2018 on a team option with a $1 million buyout. Bill James projects him hitting .285 with 24 homers and 93 RBI.

Kendry Morales

Age: He will be 34 in June.

R/L: A switch-hitter, Morales hit .330 against lefties last season, but only .231 against righties.

2016 stats: He contributed 30 homers for the Royals, while hitting .263 and whiffing 120 times.

2014-2016 stats: Morales hit .262 with 60 homers, 241 RBI and 291 strikeouts.

Position: Played seven games at first and five in the outfield in 2016.


The Red Sox may have already missed out on Morales. On Nov. 11, the Blue Jays reportedly signed him to a three-year deal worth $33 million, pending a physical. Morales, like David Ortiz, is a pure DH. Signing him will require a minimum of three years and likely a five-year deal with an out earlier. He hit .296 from Aug. 1 through the end of the season. He is a lifetime .294 hitter with runners in scoring position. He will not cost a draft choice to whoever signs him. In 108 career at-bats at Fenway, he has homered once and hit .250.

Mitch Moreland

Age: Moreland is 31.

R/L: Mitch is a lefty who has hit .258 against righties in his career.

2016 stats: Moreland hit .233 with 22 homers and 60 RBI. His OBP was just .298 and had a career high with 118 strikeouts. In 53 games after Aug. 1, Moreland hit four homers, drove home 14 and struggled with a .202 batting average.

2014-2016 stats: Over the course of 331 games, Moreland hit .254 with 47 homers and 168 RBI.

Position: Moreland won the Gold Glove for this work at first base in 2016.

Pro & con-siderations: Moreland is a streaky hitter with more bad streaks than good ones. Adding him to the Sox would make Hanley Ramirez the DH because you don’t put a Gold Glover on the bench. The question is whether his upside on defense is worth the changes that would ensue offensively. He had 85 RBI in 2015, the only time he has driven in more than 60 runs. In his career, he has hit just .218 with runners in scoring position and two outs. In 41 at-bats at Fenway, he has four homers and a .341 batting average.

Brandon Moss

Age: Moss turned 33 in September.

R/L: Brandon bats from the left side of the plate, and has hit .240 against righties and .243 against lefties in his career.

2016 stats: Moss hit .225 with 28 homers and 67 RBI. He hit .223 against righties with 2r homers and .232 against lefties with three homers.

2014-2016 stats: In 424 games, Moss hit .229 with 72 homers and 206 RBI.

Position: Playing right field, left field and a little first base, Moss is an average to slightly above average fielder, with right field being his strength.

Pro & con-siderations: Moss was a 2002 8th round draft choice of the Red Sox. After Aug. 1, Moss hit just .191 for the Cardinals with 11 homers in 53 games. He did not receive a qualifying offer.

Mike Napoli

Age: Nap turned 35 on Halloween.

R/L: Righty.

2016 stats: Napoli had a career-high 34 homers and 101 RBI for the AL champion Indians. He also had a career-high 194 strikeouts.

2014-2016 stats: In 402 games over the last three seasons, Napoli has 69 homers and 206 RBI. While hitting .237, he also struck out 445 times, the eighth most in the majors.

Position: First base.

Pro/Con-siderations: Napoli’s fielding rate has gone down from +12 in 2013 to -3 in 2016. He is headed to being solely a DH. He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Indians after signing a one-year, $7 million deal last season. He has always been a clubhouse leader, after all who doesn’t love Mike Napoli?

Michael Saunders

Age: Saunders turns 30 in November.

R/L: He is a lefty who hit .247 against righties last season with 16 homers.

2016 stats: Saunders hit .253 with 24 homers and just 57 RBI. He struck out 157 times in 140 games.

2014-2016 stats: He’s only played 227 games over the last three seasons, hitting .257 with 32 homers and 94 RBI.

Position: Saunders is a -7 right fielder and a -14 left fielder.

Pro & con-siderations: Saunders was an All-Star last season because he hit .298 with 16 homers heading into the break. The problem is, after the break he hit just .178 with eight homers and 15 RBI.

Mark Trumbo

Age: Trumbo will be 31 in January.

R/L: A right-handed batter, he only hit .173 off lefties last season.

2016 stats: Trumbo led the majors with 47 homers (25 in Camden Yards/22 on the road). He hit .256 with 108 RBI with a whopping 170 strikeouts.

2014-2016 stats: Over the last three seasons, Trumbo has hit .253 with 83 homers and 233 RBI. He has whiffed 391 times in 389 games.

Position: Trumbo was a right fielder for 95 games and a DH for 59. He has also played some first base. He was -17 as a right fielder last season.

Pro & con-siderations: Trumbo is a defensive liability anywhere but first base. In 55 games after Aug. 1 last season, he slugged 17 homers but hit just .229. The Orioles have extended Trumbo a qualifying offer. His age is a positive, but his all-or-nothing tendencies at the plate are not. Trumbo was the recipient of the American League Comeback Player Of The Year honors. Bill James predicts a 36-homer season for Trumbo in 2017.

Justin Turner

Age: Turner turns 32 in November.

R/L: He is a righty who hit .305 with 22 homers against righties in 2017.

2016 stats: Turner had a breakout season in 2016, hitting .275 with 27 homers and 90 RBI. After Aug. 1, Turner hit .285 in 51 games with nine homers and 30 RBI.

2014-2016 stats: In 386 games for the Dodgers, Turner hit .296 with 50 homers and 193 RBI.

Position: Turner is a +10 third baseman.

Pro & con-siderations: While everyone is presuming Turner returns to the Dodgers (they made a qualifying offer to him), this would be an out-of-the box pickup by Dombrowski. Turner, who has the look and feel of the 2004-07 Red Sox, would be a quick fan favorite that would enable Boston to use a Travis Shaw/Pablo Sandoval rotation at DH or free up Shaw for a deal to acquire a pitcher.

Joey Votto

Age: Votto turned 33 in September.

R/L: Joey bats left. He hit .330 against righties and .314 against lefties last season.

2016 stats:  In 158 games, Votto hit .326 with 29 homers and 97 RBI. His OBP was .434 as he led the league in this category for the fifth time.

2014-2016 stats: In 378 games, Votto has hit .309, with 64 homers and 200 RBI. He has had a .437 OBP with 298 walks and 304 whiffs.

Position: Votto had a huge drop-off fielding at first last season with a -15 rating.

Pro & con-siderations: According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Reds have “no intention” of trading Votto. However, it could be game-changer if Dombrowski made an offer that Cincy could not refuse. The Sox are one of the few teams who could comfortably handle Votto’s $179 million over the next seven seasons and even deal with his full no-trade rights.

Have fun shopping, Dave.

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