DALLAS -- Even before Wednesday's midnight deadline, David Ortiz has made a decision to accept salary arbitration from the Red Sox, effectively reuniting the slugger with the team for his 10th season with the club.
By accepting the team's offer, which it made last month, binds Ortiz to the Sox and prohibits him from negotiating with any other clubs.
Ortiz and the Red Sox can still negotiate a longer-term deal even after the arbitration acceptance is official, but there's little hope for a resolution beyond 2012.
The club recently made a two-year, 18 million offer to Ortiz, a source confirmed, but that was far from what Ortiz was seeking. Ortiz had hoped that a two-year deal would be worth 25 million, giving him the same payday (12.5 million per season) that he had in 2011.
ESPNBoston was the first to report the Sox' contract offer.
Through the arbitration process, Ortiz is likely to earn somewhere between 13-14 million for 2012, a modest raise over last season. The Red Sox haven't actually gone to arbitration since Theo Epstein took over as general manager after the 2002 season, so it seems likely that the sides will settle beforehand.
"We've had some more dialogue (with Ortiz's agent Fernando Cuza) since we got to Dallas," said GM Ben Cherington, "and he's got that decision to make (Wednesday). We remain hopeful that he's on the team in 2012. That's been our position all along. But we haven't agreed on anything yet."
Cherington, in an indirect reference to the team's two-year offer, said the Sox have "talked to him about" being part of the Sox beyond 2012.
"So, in theory, yeah, we'd like to have him on the team and we've expressed that to him," said Cherington. "If there's a way to make it work, we'd like to have him finish his career with the Red Sox. We haven't reached an agreement on a contract, but we've had good dialogue.
"I think there's a good understanding of our respective positions and a lot of mutual respect. If we don't reach anything by (Wednesday), we'll see what his decision is. If we don't and he accepts, then we'll be happy with that outcome."
Baseball sources indicate that what hamstrung Ortiz on the open market was the knowledge that a team would have to forfeit its first round pick next June in compensation. Ortiz is a Type A free agent, and because the Sox offered him arbitration, they would obtain a first-round pick and a sandwich pick had he signed elsewhere.