David Ortiz Wants Long-Term Deal
Sitting in the dugout prior to winning Monday's All-Star Home Run Derby, Ortiz made his wishes known. He wants a long-term deal.
"I don't want one year," he said. "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.''
Ortiz later won the Home Run Derby, but it's been his play of late that will give the Red Sox's designated hitter bargaining power.
In his first 19 games, between Opening Day and May 4, Ortiz floundered at the plate. He hit only three home runs and had a batting average of .149.
Since then, Ortiz has raised his production, considerably. In 55 games he's hit 15 home runs and driven in 51 runs. He's also tallied a .304 batting average. It's partly because of this resurgence that the 34-year-old slugger may get his way.
Of course, it's easy to see why Ortiz believes he's worthy of a contract extension. And the timing couldn't be better. Taking into account he started the season very slowly, Ortiz is still hitting one home run in every 13.9 at-bats on average. He hasn't produced that kind of home run output since the 2006 season, when he hit 54 home runs.
Ortiz probably isn't going to come close to repeating his home run total from 2006. But the fact that he tallying dingers with regularity, once again, gives him leverage.
The Red Sox aren't without a few bargaining chips themselves, as there are a few big-named potential free agents that may hit the market soon.
Both Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. They are also both younger than Ortiz -- Fielder is 26 years old while Gonzalez is 28 -- and have more home run potential.
You had better believe that the Red Sox will examine their options in regard to Gonzalez and Fielder, as well as other potential free agents, before dealing with Ortiz. The franchise has a history of dealing older players or letting them leave via free agency, instead of using high dollar amounts to satisfy popular demand. Don't forget the team's decision to let Pedro Martinez leave, instead of breaking the bank to make fans happy. The Red Sox are extremely calculated when deciding which aging players to re-sign. This decision will not be any different.
Whether Ortiz gets his wishes and is offered a long-term deal is still anyone's guess. What is known for sure is that neither side has spoken with the other and talks likely won't begin until after the season concludes. We also know that Ortiz really wants to remain in a Red Sox uniform.
"I'm going to tell you, I ain't going nowhere,'' the slugger said.