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Coming off a dominant season and an otherworldly postseason, Ortiz is looking to add another year to his contract. With his current contract running out in 2014, Ortiz wants to extend it now so he does not have to worry about it during the season. After playing in only 90 games in 2012, Ortiz bounced back in 2013 to play in 137 games, hitting .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs. When discussing his contract status with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Ortiz said:
“We gave them what they wanted. I don’t have next year guaranteed and I think I can play another one. We’re working on that. … As long as I feel good I’m going to want to play. … I just hate the situation where I have to sit down at the end of the year and talk about my following year. Let’s do it now. We’re world champs right now.”
Ortiz is scheduled to make $15 million in 2014 and is likely looking for a similar number for his extra year. Big Papi is not only an integral part of the Red Sox but also to the city of Boston as a whole. His speech after the bombings, as well as his support to all those affected, show how David Ortiz is more than a baseball player; he is a part of Boston. Big Papi belongs here. He understands that, and it is apparent that the Red Sox front office does as well. When asked on the Mustard and Johnson show, Larry Lucchino explained that David Ortiz had value beyond what he brings to the diamond:
“With certain players it is, absolutely,” he said. “Their leadership. How much they’ve represented the franchise nobly or well over the course of their career. David has all of those things going for him. He’s a leader. He brings a sense of humor and a big heart to the job and to the production he gives the Red Boston.”
Considering his importance to the franchise and the city of Boston, securing Ortiz for another year makes sense for the Boston Red Sox. Ben Cherington would be wise to sit down and listen to Papi and his agent and see if an agreement can be reached.
With all that said, the Red Sox should not just hand Ortiz a blank check and be done with it. Ortiz will be entering his age-38 season, and while he may still put up above-average numbers next season, there is no certainty. There is even less certainty in 2015 when Ortiz will be 39 years old. Ortiz could very well have an outstanding age 38-39 season, but history is not on his side.
After 16 seasons of wear and tear on his body, it will eventually catch up to him, so it is best for the Red Sox to hedge their bets. An extension similar to his last one would make sense. While Ortiz earned $15 million in 2014, $4 million of that came from incentives tied to the number of games he played in 2013. A similar deal based on his 2014 games played could make sense for both Ortiz and the Red Sox going into 2015.
Big Papi deserves to stay in Boston, but the Red Sox should not rush into it unless it’s on their terms.