The Red Sox announced today that they’ve reached a long-term agreement with retired designated hitter David Ortiz that “should link him with the organization forever.” Details surrounding Ortiz’s role with the team for which he starred from 2003-16 are somewhat nebulous, though the team’s press release on the matter indicates that Ortiz “will act as a mentor for current players, participate in recruitment efforts, make a variety of special appearances for the club, and work in a business development capacity for Fenway Sports Management and its partners.”
Ortiz himself revealed to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford yesterday that he’d agreed to some kind of new front-office role with the club. “I’m going to be up in the front office,” said Ortiz to Bradford. “Doing some things like going seeing players. That’s going to happen. At some point you’re going to see more often around, things like spring training.”
The 2017 campaign marks the first in which Ortiz hasn’t appeared in a Red Sox uniform since 2003 and the first in which hasn’t been active as a player since 1997. The 10-time All-Star retired following the 2016 campaign, bringing his career to a close with a terrific .286/.380/.552 batting line and 541 home runs across parts of 20 Major League seasons. Ortiz’s success with the Red Sox and postseason heroics had already cemented him in the team’s lore, though there’s been a longstanding belief that he could also return to the club in some type of off-the-field capacity.
As Bradford notes, Ortiz will follow in the footsteps of former Red Sox stars Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek in serving the organization in an advisory capacity, although today’s announcement seems to indicate that Ortiz’s agreement is more formal and elaborate in nature.
“Like David himself, this agreement is unique and the first time we have made a commitment of this kind or this length to a player, retired or active,” said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner in the team’s announcement. “I am delighted we have a lasting partnership with him; one that brings to us the wisdom, experience, and character that has lifted this club time and again.”