It appears as though there may be a bump in the road on Yawkey Way.
This does not mean that Ortiz will not return to Boston. However, it does muddy the waters a bit.
If Ortiz makes it to free agency, he can obviously field other offers from interested clubs, or he could accept the presumable $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox. (He would have until November 9th to decide upon accepting said qualifying offer.)
However, what if David Ortiz pulls a Ray Allen and decide that the grass may be greener elsewhere?
After all, he has been aboard this sinking ship for two seasons now and unless there is hope (read: money) in his future, he may want to see what life it like outside of Fenway Park, the place he's called home professionally for the last 10 seasons.
The Red Sox most assuredly have a contingency plan in place should the latter happen. The question is, who exactly could they target?
More precisely, what direction would they take in acquiring a new designated hitter?
Could they look to go with a traditional DH? Another Ortiz in the making? Or, and more likely, would they transition into the versatile DH, someone more akin to a Michael Young in Texas?
There are no shortages of players who can just hit for a team. The concern is getting the right guy for the job.
Already fans have been clamoring for a new first baseman since the departure of Adrian Gonzalez. James Loney just didn't cut it.
Mike Napoli's name has come up numerous times. He, a man of obvious flexibility, can catch, DH and play first base. The front office could be looking to bring him in to do exactly that: be an everyman.
At the very least the Sox would like to see a player who could man one position outside of just hitting. Names like Travis Haffner, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena and Lance Berkman all fit that bill.
Of course, the team could look to fill its first base vacancy with a player like Adam LaRoche and just use a revolving door of designated hitters for the season.
The key is to find a player that can both perform well in Boston and offer the team more than just a one-dimensional player. Assuming the idea would be to sign a DH via free agency, that narrows the field down to Mike Napoli or Carlos Pena.
Napoli owns a career .306/.397/.710/1.107 batting line at Fenway Park with seven home runs and 17 RBI in just 19 games.
Pena owns a career .248/.343/.472/815 batting line at Fenway with 11 home runs and 44 RBI in 64 games.
While the edge would obviously go to Napoli, Pena could fill the role adequately for Boston, should it ever come down to it.
At the end of the day, the best fit for the 2013 Boston Red Sox DH still has to be David Ortiz. It's just up to the brass to get a deal done.
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