Out since July 17 with a strained Achilles’ tendon, David Ortiz wants to come back and play for the Red Sox as soon as possible. However, he made it clear Sunday that he’s thinking ahead to his upcoming free agency in deciding not to rush his return.
“If you go back and play sore, of course you could [tear it]. It’s not healed. It’s not ready and I don’t want to run that risk,” Ortiz told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m a free agent after this year and I don’t want to have a surgery going into free agency.”
It’s hard to blame Ortiz for thinking that way after what happened with Ryan Howard last year. Howard, playing on a sore Achilles, ruptured the tendon on the Phillies’ very last play of the season and missed nine months before returning July 6. If Ortiz were to suffer a similar injury, it’d ruin his chances of landing a multiyear deal and probably cost him a few million dollars in salary next year.
Still, Ortiz’s complaints about his contract situation can’t be endearing him to a Red Sox front office that has never been shy about paying the man. Of course, the Red Sox look at the history of designated hitters in their mid-30s and Ortiz’s body type and only want to go year to year with him. They see that as smart baseball sense. Ortiz looks at the deals handed to guys like John Lackey and Carl Crawford and sees his one-year contract as a lack of respect.
Ortiz will keep testing his Achilles with the hopes of returning in the near future. Currently five games back of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Red Sox desperately need him in the middle of their lineup.
The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.
Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.
Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.