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David Ortiz plans to retire after 2016 season

David Ortiz has played 19 seasons in the major leagues.
David Ortiz has played 19 seasons in the major leagues.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

David Ortiz, the charismatic and often controversial slugger who forever changed the course of Red Sox history by leading the team to three World Series championships, will retire after the 2016 season.

A source familiar with the plans said Ortiz would mark his 40th birthday by making the announcement on Wednesday.

"Big Papi" hinted several times last season he was getting close to retirement after spending nearly half his life in the major leagues. His intent was to leave while still a viable player and not face the awkwardness of being prodded out after staying too long.

"The time is coming," Ortiz told the Globe in March. "Every year, it gets harder."

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That sentiment hadn't changed by the final week of the season.

"I don't know how much more time I have," Ortiz said in October, two days before the Red Sox finished with a disappointing 78-84 record. "At my age, getting ready to play gets harder and harder. It's not an easy game to play when you're my age."

The announcement will not come via the Red Sox or from Fenway Park. Ortiz is expected to explain his reasoning on The Players' Tribune website.

Ortiz has played 19 seasons in the majors, the last 13 with the Red Sox. He is under contract for $16 million for 2016 with the team holding an $11 million option for 2017.

The final year would become guaranteed if Ortiz makes 425 plate appearances, but he is prepared to leave that on the table.

Ortiz has hit 503 home runs, 27th all time. His 445 home runs with the Red Sox are third in team history behind only Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Since he joined the Red Sox, Ortiz leads the American League in home runs and RBIs. He also holds virtually every career record for designated hitters.

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Ortiz is a nine-time All-Star and has finished in the top five of the Most Valuable Player voting five times. Barring injury, he should join Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as the only players in history with at least 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

Only Ortiz and Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Reggie Jackson have at least 500 home runs and three World Series titles.

All this from a player who was released by the Minnesota Twins after the 2002 season and signed by the Red Sox for $1.2 million.

Ortiz hit .273 last season with 37 home runs and 108 RBIs. He reached 500 home runs by hitting two against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 12.

Among Red Sox fans, Ortiz is most revered for his production in the postseason.

Ortiz has hit .295 in 82 playoff games with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs. In 14 World Series games, he has driven in 14 runs and hit a staggering .455.

Boosted by Ortiz's clutch hitting, the Red Sox won titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013. In a city where athletic success is measured by championships, that put Ortiz in a class that includes Larry Bird, Tom Brady, Bobby Orr, and Bill Russell.

Ortiz helped galvanize the region after the Marathon bombings of 2013, leading a team with low expectations to another championship.

"This is our city," Ortiz said during a ceremony to honor the victims at Fenway Park, punctuating his rallying cry with a profanity.

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Ortiz also won baseball's Roberto Clemente Award in recognition for his providing medical support to children in his native Dominican Republic and New England. He is one of baseball's most popular players and for years the face of the Red Sox.

There were missteps along the way. Ortiz squabbled with the Red Sox over his contract at times and often tormented opposing pitchers by pausing to admire his long home runs. A playful personality could quickly sour if Ortiz felt offended.

In 2009, Ortiz was reported to have tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in a survey test done six years earlier. Ortiz admitted only to using over-the-counter supplements and in the years since never tested positive.

In an expletive-filled rant published by The Players' Tribune in March, Ortiz again denied any drug use. But the suspicion that his power was chemically enhanced could damage Ortiz's chances at election to baseball's Hall of Fame.

If Ortiz follows through and retires after 2016, he would come not up for election until 2021.

For the Red Sox, the challenge will be filling a gaping hole in the lineup. Ortiz is arguably the most impactful player in franchise history.

"I don't know when he will retire," teammate Dustin Pedroia said last season. "But there's no replacing a guy like David."

David Ortiz career stats
Year Team G AB R H Avg. OBP 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
1997 Min 15 49 10 16 .327 .353 3 0 1 6 2 19
1998 Min 86 278 47 77 .277 .371 20 0 9 46 39 72
1999 Min 10 20 1 0 .000 .200 0 0 0 0 5 12
2000 Min 130 415 59 117 .282 .364 36 1 10 63 57 81
2001 Min 89 303 46 71 .234 .324 17 1 18 48 40 68
2002 Min 125 412 52 112 .272 .339 32 1 20 75 43 87
2003 Bos 128 448 79 129 .288 .369 39 2 31 101 58 83
2004 Bos 150 582 94 175 .301 .380 47 3 41 139 75 133
2005 Bos 159 601 119 180 .300 .397 40 1 47 148 102 124
2006 Bos 151 558 115 160 .287 .413 29 2 54 137 119 117
2007 Bos 149 549 116 182 .332 .445 52 1 35 117 111 103
2008 Bos 109 416 74 110 .264 .369 30 1 23 89 70 74
2009 Bos 150 541 77 129 .238 .332 35 1 28 99 74 134
2010 Bos 145 518 86 140 .270 .370 36 1 32 102 82 145
2011 Bos 146 525 84 162 .309 .398 40 1 29 96 78 83
2012 Bos 90 324 65 103 .318 .415 26 0 23 60 56 51
2013 Bos 137 518 84 160 .309 .395 38 2 30 103 76 88
2014 Bos 142 518 59 136 .263 .355 27 0 35 104 75 95
2015 Bos 146 528 73 144 .273 .360 37 0 37 108 77 95
Total 2257 8103 1340 2303 .284 .378 584 18 503 1641 1239 1664
SOURCE: Stats LLC

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.