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David Ortiz "wouldn't feel comfortable" with a one-year deal

Sep 24, 2010, 10:30 AM EDT

The Red Sox have an expensive option on David Ortiz. I’ve convinced myself that there would be dumber things for the Sox to do than pay Ortiz $12 million next year, if for no other reason than it will limit their controversial offseason moves to one (Papelbon) and at some point the hassle reduction is worth a couple million bucks if you have it to spare. 

But that’s apparently not good enough for Big Papi:

In an interview for The Bradford Files podcast, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz explained
that he won’t feel ‘comfortable’ playing under a one-year deal for next
season, citing his discomfort with going through some of the pressures
that he experienced throughout the 2010 campaign.

Ortiz says he really wants to stay in Boston, but he also says that the scrutiny he faces there is too much to take without an extra year on a deal:

“I don’t think I
can keep up with all the crap that you go through just because you cool
off for one week or one month. I think the only way you can stay away
from that when people know you have a guaranteed contract.”

I see this in exactly the opposite way.  The “pressure” of being in a walk year — which, for all practical purposes, 2010 was for him — seemed to suit his production just fine. Only a psychiatrist can tell us for sure, but Ortiz would not have been the first player to step his game up, unconsciously or otherwise, because he needed to in order to secure his future. Give him two years — which would almost certainly be his last contract — and maybe the motivation is gone.

Likewise, does Ortiz really think a multi-year contract would bring him less scrutiny if he slumps?  The Boston writers can be vicious, but they’re not dumb, and it would not be long before the “we’re stuck with this through the 2012 season?” sentiment started to build. If he has a one year contract and falls off a cliff people can at least calm themselves with the notion that, hey, it will be over soon.

Ortiz is probably worth one year and $7 million or so. Picking up his one year, $12 million option isn’t the best move ever, but it’s doable. Guaranteeing his presence for two or more seasons at this point of his career, however, seems like madness.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    If Big Papi wants two years, if I were the Red Sox, I would offer him a 2 year $14 million deal, with incentives. That’s only a couple mil more for the extra year, but if he does well, it would be more because of the incentives. If he wants more guaranteed, then I would tell him to forget it.

  2. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Sep 24, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    People respond to incentives, rather than security. The pressure argument is bogus — this guy was on a team that broke the fabled Curse. If Papi wants another big contract in 2012, he’ll hit well in 2011. If he is unable to do so, it won’t be because the pressure got to him — it will be because he can’t cut it anymore.

  3. John_Michael - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    I’m guessing Ortiz is just posturing to get another year added to his deal. If something like this came from Boras, we’d see right through it.

  4. Professor Longnose - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    CC: “Likewise, does Ortiz really think a multi-year contract would bring him less scrutiny if he slumps?”
    No, but it would greatly increase his chance of staying in the lineup. He’s still have to deal with the scrutiny, but wouldn’t have to fear nearly so much that he’d be benched after a slow start and never get a chance to show he’s still got it. The Sox might give up on him as a starter with a one-year contract and leave him on the bench as a pinch hitter, but probably not for two years. In that case, they’d most likely either stick it out to the end of the season hoping he’d come around enough to be tradeable, or suck it up and cut him off the roster, making it cheap for another team to take a flyer on him.

  5. Md23Rewls - Sep 24, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    It would really suck if David Ortiz didn’t feel comfortable. Because I’m sure every team in baseball would want to make sure that an overweight former steroid user in their mid-30s who can’t play the field and is liable to slide off at any moment feels comfortable. Yeah. At least he smiles a lot, though. Except when he’s slumping and gets mad at people who dare wonder about him.

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