Despite something of a triumphant return from the DL on Friday, the Boston Red Sox kept David Ortiz out of the lineup on Saturday and are considering shelving him for the rest of the 2012 season. Ortiz, who had two hits and two RBI in Friday’s return, is having another surprising monster season, hitting .318/.415/.611 at the age of 36.
As recently as 2009, the outgoing slugger appeared to be fading fast, as he posted a .794 OPS in 150 games, easily his worst output since becoming a full-time player in 2004. Instead of continuing to decline in the subsequent seasons however, Ortiz has improved a little each year, and is now back to producing at levels close to his peak in 2006-2007. The late career surge was not probable based on his body type and slow ascension to stardom, but there’s no doubt he’s the most dangerous hitter in Boston’s now unrecognizable lineup.
After completing a nine-player trade with the Dodgers yesterday, the Red Sox will be fully committed to the rebuilding process for at least a few seasons, so one could argue over how well a veteran like Ortiz fits in at all, but whether they keep him around or not, there’s no point in worrying about forcing his bat into the lineup this year if there are any health risks at all. Boston currently sits at 9.5 games out of any shot at post-season contention, and yesterday’s trade reveals that the front office has no illusions of making that ground up over the stretch run.
After avoiding arbitration last off-season by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $14.575 million, Ortiz is a pending free agent for the 2013 season, although any suitors would likely be limiited to the American League barring a change to the DH rule that accompanies the new balanced schedule system.