Dave Dombrowski has suggested the Red Sox could be headed for an understated offseason, and it’s looking more and more like Boston will not, in fact, be bringing a big-ticket replacement like Edwin Encarnacion in to fill the hole left by David Ortiz at DH. Instead, it’s Carlos Beltran who has emerged as the early favorite to take Big Papi’s spot, with Scott Lauber of ESPN citing a major-league source who says the Red Sox “want him badly.”
We tackled the idea of signing Beltran before a few days ago. The verdict—mine, at least—was not terribly positive. Obviously his age is the biggest concern. With Beltran turning 40 early in the 2017 season, the odds for sudden and dramatic decline are relatively high. Add to that a number of concerns with the way his production would translate to Fenway Park, and a general downturn upon leaving New York last season, and he feels about as likely as Chris Young to maintain the 2016 levels of success that suggest he would bring a truly positive bat to the DH position.
Does that make Carlos Beltran worthless? Not really. If nothing else he at least gets them a second coin flip (or however you want to characterize his and Young’s chances) at a player who actually fills the role reasonably well. That’s something, and probably something more valuable to a Red Sox team looking for one particularly good answer at DH rather than a reliably mediocre one like Kendrys Morales looks to be. There’s just too many players already in-house who might end up matching what Morales was last year and, on average, over the five years since he returned from injury. The same can’t really be said for the Beltran of the last couple years.
Still, this doesn’t seem like the best result Red Sox fans could hope for, and that holds even if we’re writing off guys like Encarnacion as too expensive. It wouldn’t be a disaster—it’s hard to really produce a disaster signing when the free agent in question is 40 years old without a qualifying offer—but it certainly wouldn’t be inspiring, either.