My what a difference a couple of months makes.
It seems like only yesterday (it was actually January 27th) that Red Sox slugger David Ortiz stole headlines with he threatened to “move on” if Boston did not offer him a multi-year contract (story link here in case you missed it).
Now, after finally agreeing with the club on an extension, it’s all smiles, hugs and handshakes between Ortiz and Red Sox organization.
“In my case, this is where I want to be,” Ortiz said at a press conference Monday. “This is the place that I know. And now knowing that as long as I’m healthy and as long as I’m good to go, I’m going to be playing here, it’s just less stress.”
Ortiz was given a one-year extension for $16 million which will keep him under guaranteed contract through 2015. There is a vesting club option for 2016, which will become operative if Ortiz tallies up a certain number of plate appearances. There is also a straight club option for 2017, so Papi could be playing in Boston into the age of 41 if everything works out. The contract could have a total value of $48 million over those three years.
The deal isn’t exactly the long-term contract Ortiz had been demanding, but it is a creative compromise that appears to have made Big Papi happy while protecting the club against the potential decline in ability and health that can come with an aging player.
Who can say how long Ortiz can remain productive? He is already an outlier, defying the laws of time with his continued huge production despite his continuing birthdays.
He was last year’s World Series MVP, winning his third championship with the historic franchise that had suffered through and 86-year drought before Ortiz’s arrival. In the 2013 regular season, he hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.
January’s ultimatum was pretty bold for a player who was already under contract for 2014 and would be turning 39 during the season. I was critical of him, because it had made Ortiz, a usual fan favorite for his big smile and boyish nature, appear diva. I’m glad to see the controversy finally put to bed, and so is Ortiz.
“I guess you guys get tired of me talking about contract all the time,” Ortiz said to chuckles from news reporters. “At least I’m going to have some time off you asking questions dealing with the contract situation. It’s more about the business, more about just focusing on baseball, and this is a big part of it.”
Big Papi and the Red Sox brass have gotten to know each other very well with all the time spent at the negotiation table.
Ortiz signed a four-year, $52 million contract before the 2007 season and Boston picked up his $12.5 million option for 2011. He then signed a $14.575 million deal for the 2012 season. Not wanting another one-year deal, he signed a two-year, $26 million contract in 2013.
That’s a lot of ink for such a short period of time. Hopefully Ortiz’s bargaining career is finally over once and for all. This new deal should allow him to comfortably retire a Red Sox.
“I love playing the game. I love being part of this organization, and knowing that you’re going to finish your career here,” Ortiz said. ‘It’s something that’s a huge accomplishment.”
That is, unless he keeps hitting .300+ with 30 bombs a year…