This site is well into its eleventh year and for the last six of those, there has been an annual pondering of what the Red Sox should do with David Ortiz. If you don’t believe me, just do a search on his name here and you will find them all. The call here has been something like, No, No, Yes, Yes, Heck yes. All of the “Yes” years have included a caution for going beyond two years. Now, we come to year seven of such pondering since Ortiz has hinted publicly that he wants an extension. The answer this year should be, No.
The Red Sox have handled Ortiz in a brilliant fashion. They took a chance that he would bounce back after the stumbling seasons of 2008 and 2009 and limited his contracts to a year or two at most since that time. The lack of long-term deals has worked perfectly and Ortiz for the third time helped the Red Sox win a World Series. His World Series heroics were the stuff of legend and will be discussed for years.
All the while, the Red Sox have protected themselves from the eventual breakdown that is sure to some day waylay the hulking slugger. His current two-year deal had a lower base with bonuses based on how often he was on the field. Ortiz made the max in 2013 to the benefit of himself and the Red Sox. He will again go into 2014 with the $11 million base and can make as much as $15 million depending on how often he plays.
Depending on which stat site you look at, Ortiz has averaged a valuation of $14.775 million over his last four seasons. So Ortiz has earned what he is worth and the Red Sox have not overpaid. Fortunately, no one has come up with a standardized valuation that includes the post season. But still, the deal has worked out for all parties involved.
Ortiz is entering this last year of his contract for his Age 38 season. And, after what he did with his Age 36 and 37 seasons, there is a reasonable expectation that he can repeat something close to those amazing numbers at the plate this year. But the Red Sox have hedged their bets and well they should.
Sooner or later, Ortiz will give in to Father Time. All ballplayers do. Look at Jeter’s sad story in 2013 as a reminder of how quickly it can happen. If that wall hits in 2014 for Ortiz, no harm, no foul as the Red Sox have had a wonderful run with their post-season-smashing team icon. If he again performs near 2013 standards in 2014, then they can string it along a year at a time in 2015.
If Ortiz falters, they can end the relationship with a huge celebration for a guy that helped bring the team three titles.
The Red Sox have handled David Ortiz perfectly through the years. They have allowed Ortiz to make a good living while protecting themselves for what will ultimately happen. There is no reason to end that string of smartness now. Despite the giddiness of another title, the Red Sox should resist the euphoria of what just happened, resist an extension and play the final year of Ortiz’s contract out and reevaluate at the end of the season.