The Red Sox came to terms with Jacoby Ellsbury on a one-year deal worth $8.05 million yesterday, avoiding one potential arbitration headache. But there remains a wide gulf between the team and David Ortiz.
The sides submitted their proposals to Major League Baseball yesterday, with Ortiz seeking $16.5 million and the Red Sox offering $12.65 million. If an agreement cannot be reached in the interim, an arbitration panel will hear the case next month.
The Red Sox have not gone to a hearing with a player since 2002. But given this discrepancy, common ground could be difficult to reach.
The Red Sox offered Ortiz only a 1.2 percent raise despite his hitting .309 last year with a .953 OPS last season. He had 40 doubles, 29 homers, and 96 RBIs.
Under the rules of arbitration, the panel would choose one of the two proposed salaries after each side makes its case.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would not comment on Ortiz or the team’s three other unsigned players: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, and Daniel Bard.
Aceves is seeking $1.6 million, with the Red Sox offering $900,000. Bard asked for $1.825 million, with the Red Sox proposing $1.4 million. Bailey is seeking $4.7 million, with the Red Sox offering $3.35 million.
Ellsbury received a well-deserved raise from the $2.4 million he made last season. The center fielder finished second in the American League MVP voting, hitting .321 with a .928 OPS, 32 home runs, and 39 stolen bases.
“Happy to get a deal worked out! Excited to get to Spring Training and help the Red Sox get back on top!!’’ Ellsbury wrote on Twitter.
Cherington said the Red Sox did not discuss a multiyear deal with Ellsbury, who will become a free agent after the 2013 season. His agent, Scott Boras, dismissed that idea when asked about it in December, saying such discussions would not be held until close to the time Ellsbury becomes a free agent.
The Red Sox also signed infielder Mike Aviles to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million.
Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 19, and two Red Sox icons remain unsigned. But Cherington did not sound optimistic regarding the return of Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.
“There isn’t anything new on that,’’ he said. “We expect we’ll have another conversation with Wake at some point soon. I don’t think our position has changed on that.
“We want to treat both those guys with as much respect as we possibly can, and part of that is being honest with them with what our situation is and what that might mean.
“We’ll continue to have those conversations in a private way.’’
Wakefield, 45, has been with the Red Sox since 1995. Varitek, who turns 40 in April, has been with the team since 1997 and is the captain.
Both have said they want to return to the team despite struggling at times last season. Wakefield was 7-8 with a 5.12 earned run average, while Varitek hit .221.
The Red Sox do appear willing to retain Varitek in a coaching or front office role.
No need seen
If you’re waiting for the Red Sox to sign Roy Oswalt or another starter to improve their rotation, be advised that Cherington doesn’t see a pressing need at this point.
“If spring training opened tomorrow, we’d be comfortable where we are with our pitching depth,’’ he said. “We have a number of options both on and off the [40-man] roster for the last spots in the rotation and in the bullpen.’’
The Red Sox signed veteran starter Vicente Padilla to a minor league deal Monday. He will come to camp as a starter, though open to the idea of working out of the bullpen. Cherington said the Red Sox saw Padilla pitch three times in the Nicaraguan winter league and worked him out in Fort Myers last week.
“We were pleasantly surprised with how he looked physically,’’ said Cherington, noting that Padilla had neck surgery last season.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.