Ortiz takes Sox up on arbitration offer after talks stall

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Ortiz takes Sox up on arbitration offer after talks stall

DALLAS -- With less than three hours to spare before a pending midnight deadline, David Ortiz officially informed the Red Sox Wednesday night that he was accepting their offer of salary arbitration, binding him to the Sox for at least the 2012 season.

A Red Sox source confirmed the news.

Earlier Wednesday, the Sox and Fernando Cuza, the slugger's agent, closed the gap somewhat on a two-year deal, but remained enough apart in their negotiations that arbitration loomed as the likeliest outcome to bring Ortiz back to the club for a 10th season.

A baseball source with knowledge of the discussions said the Red Sox upped their previous offer of two years, 18 million "slightly" but the two year deal still fell shy of the 20 million mark.

ESPNBoston was the first to report the Sox' initial offer of two years, 18 million on Tuesday.

The acceptance of the offer of arbitration doesn't mean that the two sides can't continue to negotiate. If they fail to reach agreement on a two-year deal, Ortiz could earn as much as 14 million for 2012 through the arbitration process.

Some reports have suggested that Ortiz could get as much as 17 million through arbiration, though an industry source dismissed that, noting that Ortiz is already, by a significant margin, the highest-paid DH in the game, and there would be little in the way of a comparable salary to send his price that high.

Now that Ortiz has accepted arbitration, the Sox may be less likely to continue to pursuing a two-year deal, since they must move on to filling other needs on the roster and must be mindful of the amount of money committed to 2013.

There is an accounting benefit to the club should a two-year deal be reached, since that would lower the average annual value (AAV) of Ortiz's contract. If, for instance, the two sides agreed to a two-year, 20 million deal, the Sox would be assessed an AAV of 10 million for 2012 and 2013.

That would represent a savings of as much as 4 million (compared to a 14 million arbitration awardsettlement) toward the team's payroll counting against the luxury tax.

A baseball source said Ortiz did have some interest from other American League clubs, but his strong preference was to return to the Red Sox -- even through arbitration -- rather than be guaranteed slightly more money for a second year from another club.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.