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Will Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion be the next Red Sox DH?

Two big AL East bats are set to hit the market right after David Ortiz retires. Should Red Sox fans be hoping one of them make their way to Boston?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With David Ortiz set to retire at the end of the year, the Red Sox could turn to one of Toronto's free-agents-to-be in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to fill his shoes at designated hitter.

It's the sort of idea that's been around since the moment Ortiz announced his impending retirement, in much the same way that "David Price to Boston" was an idea the second Dave Dombrowski took over. It's just the obvious puzzle piece to fill the role. The Red Sox need an ace, and David Price is on the market. The Red Sox are about to be down a big power bat, and two of them are on the market. It doesn't require many logical leaps to figure they might be interested.

But if the idea existed, it wasn't really being talked about until Jerry Crasnick gave it some serious life over the weekend by, well, putting it into words, and giving it the backing of "buzz."

..But much of the attention in Toronto will focus on [Jose] Bautista and [Edwin] Encarnacion, who combined for 79 homers and 225 RBIs and helped scare the daylights out of visiting pitchers at Rogers Centre in 2015. Both sluggers are eligible for free agency in November, and their hazy futures will be an inevitable piece of the narrative this summer in Toronto. The buzz is already building that one of the two will eventually land in Boston as Ortiz's DH heir at Fenway.

And there you go. Now we have ourselves a rumor. How substantial it is depends on your interpretation of "buzz," but a rumor this is.

Are Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista worthy successors to Ortiz at DH? As they are now, absolutely.The question is how long they're going to be at that level, and how much they'll command. Bautista is going to be 36 years old by the time his next contract begins. Encarnacion will be 34. These are not the players the Red Sox want to be signing to contracts of any significant length, but barring decline in 2016, they're also too good to go for particularly short years or low dollars. Bautista should get more than Victor Martinez' 4-year, $68 million given his track record, and the younger Edwin Encarnacion might push into truly ugly territories.

Not long ago, we could pass this off as "not the sort of deal the Red Sox make," for better or worse unless either or both players wind up going surprisingly cheap. But there's a new regime in town, and Dave Dombrowski is not necessarily one to get too creative when there's a clear and obvious answer available. Either one is possible. Hell, if one of the corner spots also falls through, we've even seen he's been willing to put together some truly atrocious defenses in the name of offense.

For now, it's all speculation, and speculation that could easily be put to rest if certain things go right in 2016. But if nothing else, this is dangerous territory to tread into. Hopefully the Red Sox aren't forced to push too far into it.