BOSTON -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said there were a number of things the organization had identified as goals this offseason, but the most important one was to do work to get David re-signed.
The Sox accomplished that, announcing at a Monday press conference a two-year, 26 million deal that will take Ortiz through the 2014 season. The deal includes incentives based on days Ortiz is on the active roster that can add another 4 million.
Ortiz, who was a free agent and received a qualifying offer on Friday from the Sox, was confident that a two-year deal would get done. The designated hitter was coming off two consecutive one-year deals. Two years ago, the Sox had picked up the option for 2011 for 12.5 million. They signed him to a one-year, 14.75 million deal for 2012. Ortiz had been insistent upon a multi-year deal.
They were straight up with me early and let me know what they were planning on doing, Ortiz said. That got me more than confident in walking into the offseason I was going to be back with the Red Sox.
I dont think there was any doubt. They approached me. Our negotiation this year was easier than ever. They know what they were looking for. PresidentCEO Larry Lucchino, Ben, they were the guys that my agents talked to the most. It wasnt even a going-back-and-forth type situation It was pretty much, OK, this is it and I agree with it. The whole plan is pretty much coming out next year and have a great year and thats what theyre looking for.
Cherington said it was easier to consider a multi-year deal this year for Ortiz than it had been the last two years. The blockbuster trade in August with the Dodgers freed up 260 million dollars for the Sox, along with several roster spots. Additionally, rules in the current CBA, effective from 2012 2016, including allowing just one compensation pick for a free agent, made the prospect of losing Ortiz less attractive to the Sox.
The landscapes a little different, as you know, Cherington said. The rules are different. CBA changes were going to make that different anyway as opposed to last year. I think at the end of the year David mentioned a conversation. We did meet in New York right at the end of the year. I had spoken to principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner and Larry before that about the desire to sign David and bring him back. Youre always trying to figure out a way to do that. Met with David at the end of the year in New York. I think he expressed some things from the heart to me and to Larry. And as we looked at it we felt like this was a guy theres never been a question about whether he was going to show up every day ready to play and perform.
So as we moved through that and got into October and started talking, we felt like the right thing to do in this case was get to a second year. It was just a matter of trying to find a way to make it work for David, make it work for us. I think theres some real benefit in committing to a two-year deal in this case because we are trying to build something and we want David to be a part of it and we dont need to have that conversation at the end of next year.
But Ortiz, who turns 37 on Nov. 18, appeared in just 90 games last season, limited by a right Achilles injury. He appeared in just one game after July 16 on Aug. 24 when he aggravated the injury stepping on second base rounding the bases on Adrian Gonzalezs eighth-inning home run. In that time though, he hit .318 with 23 home runs, 60 RBI, a .415 on-base percentage, and .611 slugging percentage.
In his time with the Sox, Ortiz has played a high of 159 games in 2005 to his low last season, the fewest hes played since 89 in 2001 with the Twins. Ortiz age and injury were not reasons for the Sox to shy away from a two-year deal, Cherington said.
As with any player, you got to get to the bottom of the health and figure out what sort of risk is involved there, he said. But our benefit is that we know David so well. Number one we know how hard hes going to work to put himself in the best position to play and be healthy. And we also, since we worked with him so much, we know what happened with the Achilles this year. And we feel in working with David to identify some things we can do proactively to help him.
Hes feeling a lot better now. Its not a concern moving forward anymore that it would be for any player. As we approached this we looked at the body of work, the track record. Hes been incredibly productive and durable over the course of his career. Hes been one of the more consistent and durable and productive players in the game over a long span of time. So that gave us a comfort to do a two year deal, which was important to David.
At the completion of this deal, Ortiz will be turning 38, with an 18-season big-league career, including 12 with the Red Sox. It could very well be his final major league contract. Hes not ready to consider that yet, though.
I dont know, well see. First of all, Im from the Dominican. Im not sure Ill be 30 next year, you never know, Ortiz said with a laugh.
On the other hand, I want to see how things go the next couple of years and I like the challenge of being able to do the right thing. Like I always tell everyone, the best thing that can happen to a player is recognize what your body is capable to do as you get older. Thats something that Ive been on top of the past couple of years and I been learning a lot of things and not only because of the game, because of the family that you come from, stuff like that.
Weve been working pretty good I know after the next two years its going to be a 18-year career. But I got to wait and see how my body feels after the next couple years, and decide what Im planning on d doing. I feel great right now. Thats a feeling that I havent had since I was in my 20s. The one thing that I always keep in mind is when Im full swinging and the ball isnt going nowhere I guess its time to go, right? We havent gotten there yet.