David Ortiz, like Jacoby Ellsbury, presents the Red Sox with an interesting potential arbitration case.
In December, Ortiz -- who just turned 36 and is a 15-year veteran -- elected to accept arbitration rather than opting for free agency. Last season, he hit .309, with 29 home runs, 96 RBI, and a .953 OPS in 146 games.
Compare those to his 2010 numbers: .27032102.899145; and his career-average numbers (based on 162 games played): .28335118.922.
The approach for a team going through arbitration with a player like Ortiz with a lengthy career and body of work to consider -- can be different than it is for a player like Ellsbury, who is still early in his career.
Because of his seniority and his long career, there may be more emphasis on what can be expected of this player now, said Tal Smith, the founder of Tal Smith Enterprises, which has handled more than 150 arbitration cases since 1974 for teams.
Hes already been rewarded over his career for what he has done. Now he could have been a free agent. What would that value be? If its a free agent without arbitration, clubs dont bid or negotiate on the basis of what you have done. Theyre going to negotiate on what value they think youre going to have for the club in the coming season or seasons. And I would, frankly, take that approach in arbitration.
In Ortizs case his 2011 is going to be, I think, more indicative of what his value should be, given age and so on and the fact that he was a free agent. Because free agent values are not determined as much on past history as they are on expectation. In arbitration a player is banking on what he has done.
So, from that standpoint there is a distinction, I think, and a fairly significant one. There are not that many free agents like Ortiz that go. We did one a few years ago with Mark Loretta and that was after he left the Red Sox. We basically argued that Loretta had been a free agent and he signed with Houston, for 2.5 million. And then after that year he again was a free agent and filed for arbitration and his season was relatively comparable to what he had done the year before. We argued: Look, that was his value a year ago. Thats his value today. He agreed to that. So from Ortiz standpoint its not quite the same thing but I think hes going to have to expect that its going to be more on what an arbitration panel thinks hes capable of doing this year.