Signing David Ortiz for Two Years Was a Mistake by the Boston Red Sox

By Justin Söderberg
David Ortiz (Photo: Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports)
Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that David Ortiz has been a key contributor for the Boston Red Sox for the past 10 years. The designated hitter was part the Red Sox team that won the 2004 and 2007 World Series. Ortiz is a fixture in Boston and a fan favorite. Some may even know him better as ‘Big Papi.’

In April 2006, the Red Sox signed Ortiz to a club friendly four-year contract worth $52 million, a hometown discount some may say. At the completion of his deal, Ortiz became a free agent and was seeking another multi-year deal with the Red Sox. At the age of 35, the Red Sox were against extending Ortiz for more than one year, due to his health, age and the fact he is a one dimensional player. Ortiz has only played first base for the Red Sox 26 games since the 2007 season, mainly during inter-league play where the pitchers get at bats. Ortiz inked a one-year deal worth $14.575 million, avoiding arbitration, to stay with the Red Sox, even though he had publicly disagreed with the club’s resistance to sign him for two plus years. The Santo Domingo, DR native only played 90 games for the Red Sox in 2012, due to injuries.

After the 2012 season, Ortiz once again became a free agent, this time the Red Sox submitted a qualifying offer to the DH that would have paid him $13.3 million over one-year, however he declined. The Red Sox negotiated with Ortiz and came to an agreement on a two-year deal worth $26 million, $14 million in 2013 and $11 million in 2014, that could reach $30 million if Ortiz can stay on the active roster.

There is no arguing that Ortiz has had an impact for the Red Sox being in the lineup for years, however he needs stay in the lineup. In the end, the Red Sox could be paying $26 million to a DH that is sitting on the bench with injuries. Word out of spring training is that the 37-year-old can’t guarantee he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Ortiz is nursing a tendon injury that he suffered last season, an injury he spoke confidently last fall of being healed by Opening Day, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The Red Sox should’ve stood strong and only inked Ortiz to one-year deals for the rest of his career. Red Sox Nation wants ‘Big Papi’ at Fenway Park, but at what cost? Ortiz is the highest paid designated hitter in Major League Baseball and can be put in the category of the best hitters in the game, however only when healthy. The Red Sox can most likely expect to see Ortiz on the disabled list for 30-40% of his two-year deal and it could come back to bite them.

Of course, the Red Sox front office will look like geniuses if Ortiz plays 150 games, bats .325 with 40 homers and 125 RBI each of the next two seasons, but that is highly unlikely. Predictions for 2013 are that Ortiz will play in 145 games, bat .285 with 30 homers and 100 RBI, which the Red Sox will take, again if he can stay healthy.

Justin Soderberg is a Boston Red Sox writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. To read more articles from Justin Soderberg, click here. In addition, Justin covers the Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate, Lowell Spinners at

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