Ortiz: I don't want one-year pact
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- David Ortiz insisted he has not talked about his contract with the Red Sox, but on Monday, Boston's All-Star DH sounded like a man certain of his future. Never mind the option the Red Sox hold on his 2011 contract. Ortiz wants an extension.
"I'm going to tell you, I ain't going nowhere,'' Ortiz said while sitting in the third-base dugout at Anaheim Stadium before winning Monday night's All-Star Home Run Derby, in his fourth try.
"I don't want one year. Why should I return for one year and go through the same [stuff] I'm going through now, just because it's my last year? No. I like to be left alone when I'm playing baseball. I know how to clean my [stuff] up.''
Why should I return for one year and go through the same [stuff] I'm going through now, just because it's my last year?” -- Red Sox DH David Ortiz
The Red Sox hold a $12.5 million contract on the 2011 season for Ortiz, and there is no buyout. Theoretically, Ortiz has no say in the matter. But on Monday, he made it clear he has no appetite for returning under those circumstances.
"I haven't talked to no one,'' Ortiz said about whether he has conveyed his desire for an extension to the Sox.
A club source confirmed Monday night that since the season began, no negotiations have taken place with Ortiz regarding his contract option or the possibility of an extension, and said that it is highly unlikely that anything would happen until after the season. The Red Sox are certain to monitor what the Padres' plans are for Adrian Gonzalez, and the Brewers' plans for Prince Fielder, both of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season and could be on the trading block.
If the Red Sox decided to negotiate an extension with Ortiz, they conceivably could offer a base salary with a lower average annual value than the $12.5 million they would owe him in 2011, with incentives that would allow the slugger to match or exceed that figure if he attains certain performance levels.
Does Red Sox owner John W. Henry, who once memorably presented Ortiz with a plaque proclaiming him as the "greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox," want him back?
"That's a question you have to ask him,'' Ortiz said. "I don't know. Probably. Yeah.''
Henry did not respond to an e-mail Monday night asking for comment.
Last winter was not a good market for free-agent designated hitters. Vladimir Guerrero, who was paid $15 million in his last season for the Los Angeles Angels, signed for $6.5 million with Texas, though he could make $9 million in 2011 if a mutual option is exercised. Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP for the Yankees in 2009, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Angels this past winter after being paid $13 million the previous season by the Yankees.
Matsui is 36. Guerrero is 35. Ortiz will be 35 in November. But both Matsui and Guerrero had significant health issues; Ortiz does not. Ortiz, if he maintains his current pace, should also easily eclipse the numbers posted by Guerrero and Matsui last season.
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Ortiz came into the break with a .945 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. This, after a tumultuous start to the season in which he was benched against left-handers, lifted for pinch-hitters twice, and was batting just .185 as recently as May 10. At that point, the discussion about Ortiz's future revolved more about whether he would even make it to the end of this season, and few predicted that the Sox would exercise his option.
But in the 51 games since that date, Ortiz has batted .300 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs. Only two major league players in that time have had a higher slugging percentage than Ortiz's .645 -- Josh Hamilton of the Rangers (.694) and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers (.653), both of whom have been mentioned as leading MVP candidates.
And only Hamilton (1.104) has a higher OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in that span than Ortiz.
Ortiz was asked if he thought about being here back in the early days of May.
"What did I think?'' he said. "I knew I'd have somebody thinking about it. I know how to hit. That's what I have to say. I'm just not going to hit when people want it.
"I wish I could hit when I wanted to, but it doesn't work like that. It's a process, man. Now look at it: I'm hitting, and they don't want to pitch to me.''
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.
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