If the Red Sox and David Ortiz are to settle on a salary for the 2012 season without having the matter settled in arbitration, they've got a gap of almost 4 million to close in the next few weeks.
One of four Red Sox players still eligible for salary arbitration, Ortiz filed a request for 16.5 million, while the Red Sox countered at 12.65 million. Should the matter go to a hearing, an arbitrator must choose either one figure or the other, with no middle ground as an option.
The 16.5 million is the highest salary requested by a full-time DH, while the Red Sox filed a figure only slightly higher than Ortiz's base salary of 12.5 million from 2011.
In fact, when Ortiz's performance bonuses are added to his base last season, he earned exactly 12.65 million in 2011, meaning the Red Sox are effectively not offering him a raise at all.
Ortiz finished fourth in the American League with a .952 OPS in 2012 while hitting 29 homers and knocking in 96 RBI. It was his best season since 2007, but the Red Sox are betting that the depressed market for DHs -- only Adam Dunn and Travis Hafner are scheduled to make more than 12.65 million in 2012 and no other full-time DH will make an eight-figure salary.
Increasingly, American League teams are utilizing several players in the DH spot, providing payroll and lineup flexibility.
Three other Red Sox players also filed for salary arbitration Tuesday.
Reliever Andrew Bailey, obtained from Oakland last month, filed a request of 4.7 million while the Red Sox countered at 3.35 million. Daniel Bard, arbitration eligible for the first time, filed at 1.825 million with the Sox coming in at 1.4 million.
Finally, Alfredo Aceves requested 1.6 million, with the Red Sox filing a figure of 950,000.
The Red Sox can continue to negotiate with the four players up until the date of scheduled hearings, which are scheduled to run between Feb. 1-21 in St. Petersburg, FL.
The Sox haven't gone to a hearing since 2002, when they beat pitcher Rolando Arrojo.