David Ortiz, fresh of his Home Run Derby title, thinks he is in line for a contract extension. It seems the DH is just a little peeved that he is playing this season without a guarantee for 2011 and beyond. As such, he is either looking for an extension or for the Sox to pick up his 2011 option for $12.5.
To that I say …. Papi seems to have swapped out of steroids and into weed because he doesn’t seem to be seeing very clearly.
Let’s be clear here ….. there is little chance that David Ortiz will be playing in Boston next season for $12.5M. Sorry, the DH market has collapsed in recent years (just ask Vlad) and without a Herculean second-half, there simply are no eight-figure guarantees out there for a guy like David Ortiz.
Yes, I realize that Ortiz has recovered from a horrendous start to put up some nice numbers. And clearly, he still has value. But this is a guy who was on the cusp of being released eleven weeks ago. And more importantly, this is a guy who has basically become a platoon player as he has fallen off a cliff against left-handed pitching. If you don’t agree, check out the numbers. He is hitting .192 against southpaws and slugging just .300. For the season, his OPS against left-handers is 500 points lower than it is against right-handers and more than 200 points lower than his career average. As such, tough left-handed starters own him and he is a mark for lefty-specialists in late inning situations. That is not an insignificant problem.
So what is Ortiz worth? Well, clearly not $12.5M and I fear that he is not going to take that news well. He strikes me as a guy who worships at the altar of “respect” and he won’t take kindly to a huge pay cut, especially if he puts up good headline numbers.
Now the one card Ortiz holds is the Red Sox don’t have an internal replacement. Lars Anderson MAY be coming but he isn’t ready yet and he can’t hit lefties either. Jeremy Hermida and the other-half of a platoon could be used but Hermida can’t come close to replicating what Ortiz has done this season against right-handers. And Victor Martinez might be brought back to catch and DH, but that probably requires the Sox to use Hermida or someone from outside the organization to do plenty of the DHing.
So clearly, there is a role for Ortiz, particularly in 2011. It just isn’t one that deserves anything close to $12.5M in guaranteed dough. Instead, this situation screams for a re-negotiated deal that is heavy on incentives and light on guarantees. Something in the neighborhood of $5M in base salary, with the potential to earn $10M seems about right. And what about 2012? Well, given the fact that Ortiz will be 35 this November, which probably means 37 in Dominican years, I don’t think there is any way the Sox can offer a second year guarantee. So something along the lines of a “team” option, for terms similar to 2011, is all that makes sense.
I have little doubt the Sox are thinking along these lines and I would be pretty surprised if they swallow that option, even if Ortiz finishes the year with good numbers. But that begs the question …. Will Ortiz accept the reality of a paycut? I’m not sure he will, at least not right out of the gate. Again, this is a guy who doesn’t take “slights” well and a six million dollar pay cut is a pretty big slight. But Ortiz has to ask himself ….. . where are the competing bids going to come from? Certainly nothing from the NL. The AL West? Nope. The White Sox? Maybe. Might the Yankees give Ortiz a shot at that short porch in right? Possible. But these possibilities are cloaked in uncertainty and that is being generous.
At the end of the day, I think Ortiz will be back in Boston but it won’t be on his terms. And if he is bent on picking up a two-year guarantee, it is likely that this two-year deal will barely exceed the value of his current 2011 option (12.5M). The truth sometimes hurts and David Ortiz is about to learn this truth: the days of him being guaranteed big money are over.