In what has become almost an annual event, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is grumbling about his contract. This time, the 38-year-old says he wants a multiyear deal.
If not, he’ll look to join another team.
“If I have to. If I have no choice; I’m not going to quit,” Ortiz told WBZ television in an interview that aired Sunday.
With spring training set to start on Feb. 15, Ortiz’s comments generated headlines. But he is signed through the end of the coming season for $15 million and the Red Sox have said several times that their desire is for Ortiz to retire as a member of the team.
Ortiz broached the subject of his contract in December during a charity event in the Dominican Republic, saying he earned an extension after hitting .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs last season and leading the Red Sox to their third World Series title in 10 years.
Ortiz hit .353 with a 1.206 OPS in 16 postseason games. He had five home runs and 13 RBIs and walked 16 times.
General manager Ben Cherington said then, and has repeated since, that retaining Ortiz is a priority. But the Red Sox usually wait until spring training to engage in contract discussions.
Red Sox owner John Henry, who also owns the Globe, has a close relationship with Ortiz. Like Cherington, Henry has said he wants to Ortiz to retire with the Sox.
“I’m feeling good,” Ortiz said when asked by WBZ’s Steve Burton how long he would like to keep playing. “This is not a career that is forever, but as long as I’m having fun like I had and as long as I keep on doing what I’m doing, and as long as I’m healthy, of course, I’m going to keep on giving it a try. It could be two years, it could be three years, it could be 10 years, you never know.”
Ortiz would prefer to stay in Boston.
“I would like to. I’m having fun. It’s been a hell of a ride as long as I’ve been here,” he said.
“I always keep on telling people this is a business. Sometimes you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family. As long as they keep offering me a job and I keep doing what I’m supposed to do and then the relationship keeps on building up, I’m going to be there. Hopefully, I won’t have to go and wear another uniform.”
The reality is Ortiz has more value to the Red Sox than other teams and limited options should he become a free agent.
The Sox are one of the few teams still comfortable investing a significant portion of their payroll in a designated hitter. The trend in recent years has been for teams to use multiple players in that role or to sign an inexpensive veteran.
Ortiz will be 39 after the season and could have trouble finding a multiyear offer even if he repeats his success at the plate.
The Yankees, because of their financial might, are always a possibility. But with aging players like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran dotting their roster, a DH would not be a priority.
Eleven years of success also gives Ortiz sentimental value in Boston that he would not find elsewhere. The two-year, $30 million deal he agreed to before last season was well above the market rate for designated hitters.