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Replacing David Ortiz: Exploring A Few Options For The Red Sox

By James Stewart, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) --  On Thursday, the Boston Red Sox exercised their 2017 contract option on designated hitter David Ortiz, who is still expected to retire this offseason.

We all expect Ortiz to file his paperwork and actually retire. This is the most overlooked story of the offseason. So now comes the question, who will replace David Ortiz on the Boston Red Sox?

The answer is quite difficult.

There's David Ortiz the TV ratings draw (Hello Tom!). In his final season, the Red Sox numbers on NESN were up 33 percent. I believe the first David Ortiz special, which aired around 10:30pm, did almost a 6.0 TV rating, which is insane to me. We all have emotional attachments to Ortiz, from his clutch hits to being a key member to three World Series championships over his 14 years as a member of the Red Sox. What that emotional attachment means is we watch. That emotional attachment rarely happens overnight. We trust that David Ortiz is truthful in his words, good or bad. I don't see any other member of the current Red Sox that I trust every single word they speak.

Then there's David Ortiz, the middle of the order hitter. In 151 games, David Ortiz hit 48 doubles, to lead the league. He drove in 127 runs, to lead the league (tied with Edwin Encarnacion). He slugged .620 with a 1.021 OPS, and both lead the league. On top of all of that, he clubbed 38 homers, tied for eighth in the league. David Ortiz should get MVP votes and really should be the American League Most Valuable Player. He won't win it because he doesn't play the field, which hurts his WAR rating (which finished at 5.1). We watched David Ortiz every single night, and we saw that he was the most important member of the Red Sox starting lineup night after night.

And the most important part: David Ortiz the clubhouse leader. Is there anyone in the world or in the Red Sox clubhouse who doesn't like or respect David Ortiz? The answer is no. David Ortiz got Hanley Ramirez to play this season. David Ortiz pulled a young player, Marco Hernandez, to the side in the dugout to show him a base running mistake he made. He did it in such a way that was comforting from one player to another player. That type of respect is something that also comes with time spent with a team, and it takes a special type of player to care enough to do that. David Ortiz, to our knowledge, has gotten along with every teammate he's ever had. He has welcomed them all, young and old, no matter their background.

David Ortiz had one goal: To win championships. The player who replaces him better have that same goal.

Here's a list of players, I think can replace David Ortiz going forward:

Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion - Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Three
Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the 2016 ALDS. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Encarnacion had a career high 42 home runs in 2016 and tied David Ortiz for the American League lead in RBIs with 127. His cost will come in money, likely at $20 million per season.

I don't love Encarnacion like others do.

Paul Goldschmidt

Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

At 29 years old, the right-handed all-around player would cost the Red Sox the entire farm system in a trade with the Diamondbacks. He's a near .300 hitter, .400 OBP, .900 OPS player who runs quite well. He would fit into John Farrell's "be aggressive on the bases" style of baseball. He's under team control for his age 29, 30 and 31 seasons at only $26 million.

I doubt Goldschmidt is available, but it's a name worth mentioning should Mike Hazen want to go into a full rebuild in Arizona.

On paper I love Goldschmidt, but I have no idea if his personality would translate to Boston.

Freddie Freeman

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I only mention Freeman because of Frank Wren and the Atlanta Braves connection. Jim Murray can tell you more about him; he loves talking Atlanta sports.

Joey Votto

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

This player, I love and think he'd be the Trot Nixon of the Red Sox if he could be acquired in a trade with the Reds. He's 33 and is signed at big money ($172 million) until his age 40 season. He's another player who is around a .300 hitter with a .400 OBP, .900 OPS, so he can replace Ortiz as that middle of the order bat.

The cost in a trade with the Reds would depend on the money the Red Sox would be willing to take on.

Kyle Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber
Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The price for Schwarber will be insane, but he has no position on the Cubs. If The Cubs lose Dexter Fowler as a free agent, a deal starting with Jackie Bradley Jr. makes sense. Theo Epstein did draft JBJ and he would be a great asset covering center field as a replacement for Fowler.

Schwarber is young and had a drive to win, so he came back and was an important hitter for the Cubs on their way to the 2016 World Championship.

And now, a quick thought on WWE's Hell in a Cell...

I've spent the last week defending how good the Women's Championship match in Boston was last Sunday. I felt like, in the moment, fans hated it. Looking back on it, fans hated it even more. The story at the end was about Sasha going for the win but being too physically beat up to finish Charlotte off to retain her Women's Championship. She collapsed in an attempt to power bomb Charlotte through a table on the other side of the ring, and Charlotte took advantage of the injured Banks and attempted to put her through a table twice and then his Natural Selection. The problem was, the table didn't break, twice. Table break or not, Charlotte threw her onto a table twice and then beat her with HER FINISHING MOVE after being the aggressor in their match!

Doesn't that count for anything?

Or because it wasn't through a table it wasn't good enough? I think the table NOT breaking is more painful than the table breaking. The visual of the table breaking is what we're used to, so when it doesn't break, it's a fail.

If you look at the match as a story, Charlotte dominated the match. Banks had her comeback, but at the end didn't have enough left to finish and win the contest. It really was a great story of Sasha not giving up but having her body give up on her.

The anger in the crowd when Banks lost was insane. They didn't expect it. The idea of Sasha losing never crossed their minds. I can't recall a crowd in Boston hating a finish as much as they did. The three count happened to silence of the TD Garden crowd, who just got up and walked out. It was pretty amazing to watch.

I, of course, loved the finish. Charlotte regained the Women's Championship and went to 13-0 in Women's title matches on pay per view.

James Stewart is the executive producer of the Felger and Massarotti Show, which airs 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Find him on Twitter @IAmJamesStewart.

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