The Boston Red Sox were in the market for a power hitter this offseason after David Ortiz retired, but they didn’t go for the best one on the free agent market.
Edwin Encarnacion was up for grabs after his fourth 35-plus home run, 100-plus RBI season in five years — he hit 34 homers and racked up 98 RBIs in that fifth season — but Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in November that Boston wouldn’t pursue him. The Red Sox were looking for a lower-priced option, and according to Encarnacion, who signed with the Cleveland Indians, the club didn’t even reach out.
“I was surprised because the way David (Ortiz) was pushing and talking to the media and everything, and they don’t even make an offer to me,” Encarnacion told WEEI.com on Monday after the Indians’ 7-3 win over the Red Sox. “I was surprised, but you know how it is.”
The Red Sox had their reasons back then. They didn’t want to go over the luxury tax or block prospects from moving up to the majors. Hanley Ramirez batted .286 with 30 home runs, 111 RBIs and 81 runs in 2016, setting him up as Ortiz’s heir apparent. Boston also had a very right-handed lineup and preferred to add a lefty to split time at first base with Ramirez.
Now that Boston’s offense has struggled to hit home runs and plate runners this season, the Red Sox might feel differently about not signing Encarnacion. Mitch Moreland has performed pretty admirably at first, as his 53 runs, 14 homers and 50 RBIs all rank fourth on the team and his 26 doubles rank second. But Encarnacion mashing two home runs at Fenway Park on Monday had to have stung.
Then again, the Red Sox have a 4 1/2-game lead over the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East, and their 67-51 record is better than the Indians’, so maybe Boston isn’t that disappointed after all.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images