Free Agent Stock Watch: David Ortiz

David Ortiz has played in just one game since July 16 due to a right Achilles strain, and while he hopes to be back in September, this prolonged injury isn't a good sign for a 36-year-old on the way to free agency.  The injury adds another twist to that should be a very interesting free agent case for Ortiz, especially in the wake of the recent overhaul of the Red Sox roster.

Before the injury, Ortiz was enjoying one of his best seasons.  The veteran slugger has hit 23 homers and posted a .318/.415/.611 line in 2012, providing solid production all season long and avoiding the slow starts that plagued him over the last three years.  Even though he turns 37 in November, it appears as though Ortiz still has plenty left in the tank and, if healthy, projects as one of the biggest bats on the free agent market.  Ortiz's suitors will be limited to AL teams given his inability to play the field, but as he recently pointed out to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, his full-time DH status and his recenUspw_6403502t health issues will be less important to teams than his potent bat.

In this game when you are capable to do what I do, that’s a plus. I don’t care what anybody says. It’s a plus," Ortiz said.  "It’s hard to hit a damn baseball. Harder than what anybody can imagine. If you put two, three David Ortiz in your lineup you’re going to have some results. I guarantee that….[Offense is] what everybody is looking for right now.  They don’t care if you’re a catcher, first base, DH, whatever. If you can produce, trust me, you’re going to play.”

Ortiz has a point.  Teams have been reluctant in recent years to spend on the DH spot, thus limiting a number of veteran designated hitters to modestly-priced one-year deals.  Several of those veterans are back on the free agent market in 2013, and of that group, Ortiz has by far had the most recent success and is able to consistently produce against both right-handed and left-handed pitching.  His current Achilles strain aside, Ortiz is quite durable for an older player, with just one other DL stint since 2002.

After having to settle for accepting Boston's offer of arbitration last offseason and agreeing to a one-year, $14.575MM contract, I would guess that Ortiz will certainly be able to find a multiyear contract this winter.  Agent Fernando Cuza should be able to find, at minimum, a two-year, $30MM deal for his client.  The Red Sox will make Ortiz a qualifying offer, but given how such offers are one-year deals worth around $13.35MM, Ortiz will surely turn it down in hopes of finding a better deal elsewhere. 

The Sox would get a supplemental first round draft pick if Ortiz did reject that qualifying offer and signed with a new team, but it's likely that Boston would make a significant push to bring back its long-time star.  With Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford all gone to the Dodgers, the Red Sox suddenly have loads of future payroll space to work with in the offseason. 

Two years and $30-$35MM is a very fair price for a hitter who can still generate a 1.026 OPS and locking up a franchise icon like "Big Papi" would also be a good PR move for ownership in the wake of a tumultuous season.  For his part, Ortiz has been vocal about going through the "humiliating" arbitration process and his displeasure with the constant controversy surrounding the Sox, but said earlier this week that he wanted to return to Boston in 2013.

If not Boston, where else could Ortiz land next season?  The Royals, White Sox and Tigers already have their DH spots filled, the Yankees are known to keep their DH spot flexible so they can rest their older players and Ortiz will want to play for a likely contender, ruling out the Astros, Mariners and Twins.  This leaves…

  • Angels.  This one is doubtful, as while it's possible the Halos could trade or non-tender Kendrys Morales, they're unlikely to do so in favor of a DH who is seven years older.
  • Blue Jays.  Edwin Encarnacion could become a full-time first baseman.
  • Indians.  The Tribe are known to be looking for hitting help this winter and will have an open DH spot with Travis Hafner's contract expiring.  That said, Ortiz might not consider Cleveland to be close to contention in 2013.
  • Orioles.  Jim Thome is in the mix but is a free agent himself and could also choose to retire.  The O's could decline their $11MM option on Mark Reynolds for 2013, move Chris Davis to first base and sign Ortiz as their designated hitter.
  • Rangers.   With Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli headed for free agency, Texas could well make a play for Ortiz depending on how the rest of their offseason shakes out.
  • Rays and Athletics.  I group these teams together as signing Ortiz would be a larger salary outlay than either is usually comfortable making.  For just a two-year deal, however, Andrew Friedman or Billy Beane could think Ortiz is worth it for a pennant run.  The Rays are the likelier of the two to pursue Ortiz given that the Rays are more established contenders, whereas the A's have been a surprise this year.

Photo courtesy of Bob DeChiara/US Presswire


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50 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: David Ortiz"


EdinsonPickle
2 years 11 months ago

Man, Ortiz really sees himself as the cat’s pajamas.

hurley55
2 years 11 months ago

Jays and red sox seem to make the most sense. He has said previously he’s a big fan of John Farrell and hes pals with Bautista. A 3-4-5 of Bautista-Ortiz-Encarnacion would be crazy.

2 years 11 months ago

imma tigers fan but dnt forget lawrie to but they will still need a good starting pitcher if they wanna see post season

notsureifsrs
2 years 11 months ago

They don’t care if you’re a catcher, first base, DH, whatever. If you can
produce, trust me, you’re going to play.

true. but how much you get paid to play — which is the real reason you’re talking — depends in large part on whether you’re a “catcher, first base, DH”. you’re the third one. you hit well and that’s all you do

i respect him. i like him. i’d give him a qualifying offer, maybe a vesting option of some sort. if he can do better elsewhere, good for him

MaineSox
2 years 11 months ago

I’d tell him he’s going to be the first baseman next year…

johnsilver
2 years 11 months ago

I’d tell him Lavarnway is going to be the DH and Salty the C (should they not trade Salty) if it means giving him 30m over 2 seasons.

30m spent on Ross is money better spent.

notsureifsrs
2 years 11 months ago

really? i don’t like that idea at all. a guy who hasn’t played in the field in the last 10 years is going to start getting out there every day at age 37? if he managed to keep off the DL, i think his overall game would suffer significantly

MaineSox
2 years 11 months ago

No, not really. (well, I might tell him that just to see how much he b!tches about it, but no, I wouldn’t make him the first baseman – poor attempt at internet sarcasm)

MaineSox
2 years 11 months ago

No, not really. (well, I might tell him that just to see how much he wines and complains about it, but no, I wouldn’t make him the first baseman – poor attempt at internet sarcasm)

j6takish
2 years 11 months ago

I feel like the Rangers are too smart and too ruthless of an organization to not offer him a job. My gut says they say goodbye to Hamilton and finally find a way to unload Young and try and pry him away from Boston

D.j. Wilson
2 years 11 months ago

Oakland A’s power-hitting veteran Free Agent off-season signing:
2007-2008: Mike Piazza
2008-2009: Frank Thomas
2009-2010: Jason Giambi
2010-2011: Hideki Matsui
2011-2012: Jonny Gomes
2012-2013: David Ortiz??

That would be a great addition to our lineup, bat him right behind Yoenis.

go_jays_go
2 years 11 months ago

Cespedes might be traded.

Don’t forget that Cespedes is due to be a free agent after 2014 because of a special clause in his contract. Unless Cespedes can dramatically improve upon his 2012 campaign, his value is already at its peak.

If Beane is interested in contending again next year, then keep him. Otherwise, trade him.

BoSoXaddict
2 years 11 months ago

Sox should give him a 2 year deal now and get it over with. We have the money, he is the face of the franchise, and his new physique and stats this season suggest he is far from done. I’d prefer not to have to read about this for another 5 months, just do it Ben.

jwsox
2 years 11 months ago

new physique at 37 suggests something else, something he has been caught doing before

BoSoXaddict
2 years 11 months ago

By “new physique” I wasn’t referring to anything juice-related..just the weight he lost because of his cholesterol issue. I’m no steroid expert but don’t they usually cause you to GAIN weight in the form of muscle?

DerekJeterDan
2 years 11 months ago

I’d give this man a contract to be my DH (if that spot were open on my team) any day of the weak. He’s a dominant force at the plate year in and year out. He’s one year older, yes but he will still produce the way we know he can or close to it. A huge bat who someone ought to snatch up while Boston has its turmoil and fire sale.

Gothapotamus
2 years 11 months ago

2/30M will not happen.  I don’t think it would have even without his injury plagued second half.

Sox definitely have the money to offer him arb, which would probably mean $16-18M if Ortiz would accept.  I think it would be hard for him to do better than that. None of the big market teams are looking for a DH, which really cuts down his demand/asking price.  Maybe a team like Oakland or Tampa could get in the fray as mentioned, but I couldn’t see him getting more than 2/20M from either team.  

Ortiz can complain all he wants about how he’s been treated, but it’s hard to have any sympathy for a player who netted $14M+ through the arb process last year.  If he doesn’t like it, he should talk to his union rep, because this is the system they agreed to.

notsureifsrs
2 years 11 months ago

there is no arbitration for players in his position anymore

Karkat
2 years 11 months ago

Hmm, does this make Ortiz the last rated position player to go back with his team on arbitration, then?

Guest
2 years 11 months ago

My mistake, thanks. Does change things a bit.

2 years 11 months ago

noo i think the jays will get him there interested andddd i dont think the white sox willl

BoSoXaddict
2 years 11 months ago

I wouldn’t exactly call his second half “injury plauged” – the one Achilles injury was a pretty freak/unlucky thing and it was only his 2nd trip to the DL since 2002. Overall, very durable player.

Michael
2 years 11 months ago

I like the part where he had to “settle” for $14,575,000.

Brent Lafond
2 years 11 months ago

Jays an Rangers make the most sense, Jays have Farrell who he likes an Bautista is his friend. Rangers have a good friend in Beltre tho too an Offer up a better, playoff team in recent years. Texas is Hot an Big Papi likes the warm weather. Facing the sox 19 times a year would suck in his mind an could avoid all AL East teams but if he doesnt mind then Yanks could be a real players too I think.

rsoxbob
2 years 11 months ago

Wow. I can’t believe anyone is talking about Ortiz getting a RAISE from his inflated 2012 salary. I agree that Boston gives his the qualifying offer of $13MM+, but that is well above his market value, so if he declines, they plug someone else in there and go after productive 1B and OF at half the cost. No way does he get a multi-year deal from ANYONE, and no way does he make the same salary next year that he made this year. I love Big Papi, but come on folks.

saidin09
2 years 11 months ago

Ortiz has done a great job this year, so he should get a raise, and that’s it. If Boston does not want to pay him , someone else will.

rsoxbob
2 years 11 months ago

Ortiz did a great job before he got hurt, I agree. However, the market for a solid DH is $5-8MM/year, and although Ortiz is better than solid, teams realize he is unlikely to produce a 1.000 OPS in 2013, and therefore the best Ortiz will do is Boston’s $13+MM qualifying offer, a large over-pay, but “worth it” to Boston based on his overall franchise contributions.

saidin09
2 years 11 months ago

teams will be competing for his services, which means he’ll get paid, prob. not by Sox , but it will happen

Lunchbox45
2 years 11 months ago

2-3-4-5
Rasmus
Bautista
Ortiz
Encarnacion

…yes please.

ee can handle 1B, Lind can play LF vs righties, davis/sierra can play LF vs lefties. or just get traded.

dc21892
2 years 11 months ago

I think with all the money Boston freed up they have to sign him to a 2 year deal worth anywhere from 18-30M in total value. I won’t kill them to overpay for two years since its such a short period of time, but they need Ortiz around. While he was out there were 0 home runs from the DH spot. Most teams just plug anyone in, but when you have Ortiz it is different.

dc21892
2 years 11 months ago

It wont*

2 years 11 months ago

Nobody wanted Ortiz in last year’s free agent market, what’s makes the writer think anyone would want him this time around—and at what he would want. The big $$ market for DH’s doesn’t exist.

johnsmith4
2 years 11 months ago

In my opinion, a better way of putting it, nobody wanted to give up a first round draft pick to sign David Ortiz. This year, Indians and Blue Jays may not have to cough up a first round pick to sign Ortiz.

hitdog042
2 years 11 months ago

He will stay in Boston. He just said 3 days ago he wants to stay. Its not about the $$ for Ortiz, it’s about the 2 year deal and the commitment. The Red Sox will give him a 2 year deal and all will be well. Ortiz will NOT sign in the AL East with anyone else. He knows what his legacy is, and he knows what happened to Johnny Damon. He wants to be loved the same way Pedro is loved. He aint goin anywhere.

YanksFanSince78
2 years 11 months ago

You REALLY think so? I don’t think any AL East team WILL offer him a contract but I don’t see Ortiz being enthused with the possibility of a lost 2013 (not sure what Cherington’s approach to 2013 will be) and I don’t think it’s in Boston’s best interest to offer him a guaranteed 2 year deal.

Hoosierdaddy92
2 years 11 months ago

Boston should just let him walk and build around Ellsbury, Pedroia, Middlebrooks. With Ortiz’s salary off the books, along with Daisuke’s and the other $260MM, they could trade for Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, extend Ellsbury and Cody Ross, and still have plenty of money to spend big on pitching like Greinke and Sanchez. Mauer and Morneau are better players to have at this stage in their career than Ortiz. Plus both are LH and would likely see an improvement in the HR department playing most of their games in not only Fenway, but also Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, and the Rogers Centre. In AL Central, you have one hitters park and that’s U.S. Cellular. Target Field, Progressive, Kauffman, and Comerica all hurt power.

Crucisnh
2 years 11 months ago

The Sox should let Ellsbury walk too. They have Jackie Bradley working up for CF down at AA, and all reports are that he looks great. Ellsbury and Boras are going to want waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy too much money for someone with his skill set. Furthermore, he’s going to be on the wrong side of 30 during his contract, which is bad news for a player whose game is so dependent for his speed. Furthermore, he’s an injury risk. After all for all his great promise (a near MVP season), he’s had only one of those compared to 2 seasons nearly totally lost to injury. Let someone else pay the Big Boras Bucks and take the big risk with Ellsbury.

RunningRed
2 years 11 months ago

Sox offered him 2yrs before and he went to arbitration. Papi has been a tremendous contributor for a longtime but if he expects 30m over 2? Good luck and Good night!

BoSoXaddict
2 years 11 months ago

To be fair, the 2 year deal we reportedly offered him before last season was under 20 mil. I believe it was like 18. Still above market-value for an aging DH though. Apparently his agent then told him that there wouldn’t be any better 2 year deals out there and that accepting arb would be the best choice. Seems like it worked out, despite all his bitching about arb being humilaiting, cuz he got 15 mil for one season and is now in even better position to get the 2 year deal he originally wanted.

javywoz
2 years 11 months ago

Love to see the Rays make a splash like this (especially since its likely just a 2 year deal, so no possibility of long-term harm if he goes south). If the Rays trade Shields in the offseason for a 1B, then they should have more than enough funds with Shields, Upton, Pena and Scott not on the books ($25 million+ gone). A rotation of Price, Hellickson, Moore, Neimann and Cobb/Davis/Archer is still good enough to be one of the top rotations in the AL. A top of the lineup with Jennings, Zobrist, Longoria, David Ortiz and Joyce is strong enough to keep them as AL East and Wolrd Series contenders.

ultimate913
2 years 11 months ago

I hate the rotating DH thing. The bench player is going to get ABs anyways to fill the position. Have one DH. If a guy is going to get rested, he gets the whole day off. Das it.

Goriax
2 years 11 months ago

Close to being a Blue Jay once and with the Red Sox obvious hitting of the reset button on things plus Ortiz’ friendship with Bautista and Encarnacion, this seems fairly possible for the off season.