Surely, Boston Red Sox fans can't believe David Ortiz is retiring. We understand. Your great-aunt who couldn't tell a Carl Yastrzemski from a hole in the ground understands.

But Big Papi is indeed hanging 'em up.

The question now is, who can replace him?

The answer may be Edwin Encarnacion.

Granted, no one will ever truly replace Ortiz. The 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion will forever be a part of Red Sox lore. He was there when the Curse of the Bambino was lifted and for all the salad days that followed. He'll never need to buy another meal in Massachusetts.

He also hit 38 home runs, tallied 127 RBI and paced MLB with a 1.021 OPS in his farewell season. Clearly, Ortiz is rolling off the race track with gas sloshing in his tank.

On Thursday, Boston exercised its $17.2 million option on Ortiz for 2017 "as a formality," per the team's official Twitter feed.

That leaves the door cracked on an eleventh-hour change of heart, with Ortiz busting out of the phone booth in full Superman regalia to redeem Boston's unceremonious division-series exit.

Back in reality, the defending American League East champion Red Sox will have to move on without their designated hitter, lineup anchor and franchise icon.

Which brings us back to Encarnacion, Ortiz's friend and compatriot.