The winter meetings are underway and the offseason action is picking up. One of the possible targets of the Red Sox, Heath Bell, has already signed and those that were hoping to see Jose Reyes in Beantown are out of luck.
However, there is hope that one of Boston’s historic heroes may be returning after all. Last Thursday, it was reported that David Ortiz was seeking a three-year deal and that he had “plenty of options”. I suggested that a three-year deal would be unwise, but on Monday night John Heyman reported via Twitter that the Sox front office seems confident that they’ll be able to work out a two-year deal with Big Papi. Based on some of our polls and some of our reader comments, it seems like the majority of Fire Brand readers would indeed welcome Papi back on a two-year deal, but anything beyond that would carry too much risk.
While I have already given my analysis on how Ortiz might age, I thought it would be interesting to look at some outside sources in order to try and see things from a different angle. I went over to Baseball Prospectus and had a look at Ortiz’s most comparable players. His top three comps were…
2. Jason Giambi
3. Jim Thome
Yeah, that seems about right. The good thing about those three comps? They all continued to show 30-plus home run power and well above average on-base skills through age 37 – Ortiz will be 36 in 2012. In Delgado’s age 36 season, he hit .271/.353/.518 with 38 home runs. At age 36, Giambi battled injuries, which led to him only playing in 83 games, but he did hit 14 home runs in only 254 at-bats that year. Thome had a great age 36 season, hitting .275/.410/.562 with 35 home runs.
Both Giambi and Thome went on to have excellent, and almost identical, age 37 seasons (.246/.373/.502, 32 HR for Giambi and .245/.362/.503, 34 HR for Thome), but Delgado ended up having to have hip surgery and his career essentially ended right then and there.
In their age 38 seasons, both Giambi and Thome dealt with injuries. Thome actually still posted a .372 OBP with 23 home runs, but Giambi spent the majority of the season hitting .193/.332/.364 with the A’s before being traded to Colorado.
In other words: Two years good. Three years, not so much.
Interestingly, Baseball Reference also lists Carlos Delgado as Papi’s most comparable player at age 35. In fact, they list Delgado as his best comp for ages 31, 33, 34 and 35 with Jason Giambi sprinkled in there as Papi’s comp at age 32.
Given that both sources agree on Papi’s best comps, and that those comps continued to get on base and hit the long ball through ages 36 and 37, Sox fans have reason to hope that a two-year deal gets done and that Papi can return as the Sox’ DH once again.