It’s been a season to forget for the Boston Red Sox, as the club is currently mired at a 60-67 record, seven games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East race. The Red Sox have traded many key members of the team this season in Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett. They lost Jonathan Papelbon in free agency last offseason and starting pitcher John Lackey for the entire 2012 season. Last year’s best overall player (according to FanGraphs’ WAR), Jacoby Ellsbury, has barely played, and the closer position has been a constant problem.
And now, designated hitter David Ortiz, arguably the face of the franchise for the last decade, will likely be out for the remainder of the year as he deals with lingering pain in his Achilles tendon.
Ortiz has been putting up his best numbers in five years, as he’s batting .318/.415/.611 with a 1.026 OPS that his highest mark since 2007. Ortiz is leading the American League in slugging percentage and OPS. He’s also second in on-base percentage and eighth in batting average. That’s not bad for a 36 ½ year old player in his 16th season of major league ball.
Ortiz has 23 home runs and 60 RBIs, and he’s grounded into just six double plays in nearly 400 plate appearances. All across the board, his numbers are up, and he was right in line with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout for the league MVP award.
Ortiz is signed to a one-year deal for $14.58 million, and he hits the free agent market again this offseason. He doesn’t play defense so going to a National League team is out of the question, and it’s really difficult to imagine him anywhere else but with the Red Sox.
ESPNBoston has reported that the Red Sox want Ortiz back with the club for the 2013 campaign, but the two sides have not engaged in contract discussions yet. And it may be difficult for the team to know how healthy Ortiz will be for next year if he’s done swinging a bat for 2012.
The Sox will have to gamble to see whether he can still perform in 2013.