Is David Ortiz Asking His Way Out of Boston?

Tick, tock. Tick, tock…

David Ortiz’s time with the Red Sox may be coming to an end. If it happens, it’s all his fault.

July 10, 2010 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 10 July 2010: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

There is a $12.5 M team option on Ortiz’s current contract with no buyout. This gives Sox management a choice between keeping Ortiz around for one more year or allowing him to walk away with no monetary obligation.  However, Ortiz has made it clear that he wants to negotiate a multi-year deal and will not be happy simply coming back to the Sox for one year at $12.5 M. This puts Sox management in a very bad spot as extending Ortiz into his age 36 season or beyond would be a risky move.

Despite what Ortiz thinks, his last two seasons worth of production hold little weight in any current contract negotiations.

Ortiz is not at an age , nor does he posses a skill set, where steady production can be counted on years down the road. We’ve already seen a falloff in hisAVG over the past two seasons from and there are clear signs that his bat is slowing. For the third straight season Ortiz saw an increase in his strikeout rate, a rise in his swing-and-miss rate and rise in his chase rate (swings at pitches outside the strike-zone).

Each season since 2008, Ortiz has failed to hit over .230 against left-handed pitching. In 185 at-bats against lefties in 2010, Ortiz slugged only .324, hit only two of his 32 home runs, struck out over 30 percent of the time and walked in only 6.5 percent of those at-bats. Clearly, Ortiz is a liability against left-handed pitching. If he wants to point out his consistent power production over the past two seasons, he has to understand that his problems against lefties for the past three seasons count as well.

The market for aging DH’s has not been good over the past couple of offseasons. Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Jim Thome all signed last offseason for less than $7 M apiece with none securing more than one guaranteed year. The fact that Ortiz has made his mark as a member of the Red Sox means little at this point. Having missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, it’s time to look forward, not back.

I argued back in September that picking up Ortiz’s option was not really an option given the lack of reliable free agent DH options — assuming that Adam Dunn won’t sign on to DH as he has stated — and Ortiz’s power/OBP production. Evan Brunell suggested that a renegotiated one-year deal with a vesting option based on production could also work. At least in both scenarios the Sox aren’t committed to giving their 2012 DH spot to a 36-year-old Ortiz should his regression pick up speed in 2011.

Ortiz claims that he performs better when “left alone”. He says he doesn’t want to go through what he went through this past season with regard to contract talk. Unfortunately for Ortiz, he hasn’t proven that he’ll perform better on a multi-year deal. Ortiz performed BETTER in 2010 in the last year of the guaranteed part of his contract. The last time he had two years left on a deal he hit .238/.332/.462. How does that prove that he’ll play better with the security of a two-year deal?

If Ortiz wants to be a part of the 2011 Red Sox, all he needs to do is ask them to pick up his option. If his priorities center around a multi-year deal, his days with the Sox could be over. Hitting the open market against Lance Berkman, Aubrey Huff, Derrek Lee, Nick Johnson, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and possibly even Vladimir Guerrero would not likely lead to Ortiz’s desired results.

Ortiz’s time with the Red Sox is ticking away. Whether that be in a year or in three days is really up to the declining DH. The extension Ortiz signed back in 2006 included a club option for the 2011 season. Management seems ready to pick up that option. If Ortiz isn’t ready to play on a one-year deal he had better be ready to hit the free agent market and Sox fans better be ready for life without Papi.

Categories: Boston Red Sox David Ortiz

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

4 Responses to “Is David Ortiz Asking His Way Out of Boston?” Subscribe

  1. Gerry November 2, 2010 at 3:33 PM #

    I fail to understand the lack of support for Big Papi by Boston media and fickle fans, especially when he keeps saying he wants to remain part of the Red Sox. He was absolutely right to complain about all that “crap” that he experienced during his April slumps. After just a couple of games top media and “loyal” Boston fans were calling for his head, to bench him, let him walk. It was an embarrassing chicken-little disgrace to intelligent Boston, especially towards a now 8 year veteran who played a huge role in breaking the curse in ’04 and again in ’07, who lives in (a rarity) and remains active in the community. Thanks alot, Ortiz, now get lost.

    As Evan and Ben Buchanan point out, certainly a deal can be made that will keep Papi happy and productive while minimizing exposure by the Sox. IMO, if part of this agreement is that he will sit often against lefties (an added value of the L/R skill sets of V-Mart, Salty, Tek), then his BA/OBP/OPS #’s will rise, as will Victor’s. No, he’s not the Papi of WS fame, but he can still hit 30-35HR and is clutch enough to drive in 100+ runs, and should continue to do so for another couple of years. I doubt that Damon, Matsui, Berkman, Johnson, Thome, Manny, etc. will accomplish that any more than they did in 2010. Papi is our bird in the hand. And, for what it’s worth, the Sox need to show some class here in honoring one of its greatest heroes in this decade of dominance.

    • Charlie Saponara November 3, 2010 at 4:16 AM #

      I completely understand not wanting to see a true Red Sox hero be shown the door. But what would you rather have? A broken down, regressing DH or another World Series title?

      This is about looking forward, not back.

  2. Evan Brunell November 2, 2010 at 3:46 PM #

    “The last time he had two years left on a deal he hit .238/.332/.462. How does that prove that he’ll play better with the security of a two-year deal?”

    Thank you. No idea why anyone hasn’t asked him this yet.

  3. Jack Murphy November 3, 2010 at 3:33 PM #

    David Ortiz should take the one year deal and shut up. First of all, he is older than his posted age. Some records indicate he is 38 years old. Second, his production and leadership have dropped and he is no longer a major asset to the Red Sox. The team should be focused on a replacement.