Every team in the MLB has been waiting for David Ortiz to fall off the face of the planet for the last two or three seasons, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Just when it appeared he was washed up in 2010, Ortiz erased an abysmal start by putting up huge power numbers in the second half and finished with solid numbers despite a low batting average. Since then, he has been the Ortiz of old. Big Papi is hitting .302 this season and already has 22 homers and 55 RBIs. At age 36, he is somehow on pace for one of the best years of his career.
Despite his success over the past few seasons, Ortiz continues to have to play on a one-year contract. He and the Red Sox flirted with arbitration this past offseason before agreeing to a one-year, $14.575 million deal. That doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, but from the sound of it the experience left a lasting foul taste in the mouth of Boston’s favorite slugger.
“It was humiliating,” he told Jorge L. Ortiz of the USA Today in Spanish. “There’s no reason a guy like me should go through that. All I was looking for was two years, at the same salary … and look at my numbers this year. Tell me if they wouldn’t have been better off. And yet they don’t hesitate to sign other guys, it was embarrassing.
“If you go crazy and give contracts to whoever comes along despite not knowing how they’re going to do, then you don’t give me my due consideration, even though I do my thing every year, (expletive) that. I’m going to be open to anything. My mentality is not going to be, ‘I like it here.’ It’s going to be, ‘Bring it to the table, and we’ll see what happens.’”
It’s not that simple. In a sense Ortiz is right. Obviously he had enough left in the tank before last season began to warrant a two-year deal. His numbers this year prove that he has yet to begin any type of rapid decline. However, there’s no telling whether or not he would be performing the same way if he had the security of a long-term contract. It’s no secret that athletes perform better in contract years, and that is exactly what Ortiz has done for Boston over the past few seasons.
If he continues to smash the ball through the end of the 2012 season, the Red Sox may have no choice this winter than to give Big Papi his two-year contract or let him walk. That being said, you have to assume he would have left this past winter had another club come along and offered him a multi-year deal that was more enticing than what Boston gave him. For all we know, playing for a contract every season is extending Ortiz’s career. If the system he and the Red Sox have been operating under for the last couple of years wasn’t working, he would already be gone.
H/T CBS Boston Sports
Photo credit: Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE