Aside from the obvious need of upgrading their starting pitching, the Red Sox will have some roster decisions to make this off season and none will be bigger, literally, than David Ortiz. With Big Papi set to hit the free agent market after the 2012 season concludes, the Red Sox will have to assess their desire and need for the services of a player like Ortiz. If his absence over the final two months of the season is any indication, the Sox are in dire straits for a bat like Ortiz and resigning him should be a top priority.
The good news for Ben Cherington is that Ortiz wants to stay in Boston, a city that adores the slugging veteran who has been referenced as Shrek, the fictional ogre character. Ortiz recently told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he wants to resign with the Red Sox this winter but adds that the club has to remain focused on winning and adding players that will take help this club compete for the postseason.
“I want to be part of this. That’s the thing I can tell you the most going into free agency. At the same time, this is a winning ballclub here. You need to bring in those players who like to win because this is a winning organization right here. This is an organization that the past 10 years have been very successful. You can’t let that rhythm walk away from you. You have to at least be part of the playoffs. We have two wild cards, and we’re not even in it. You can’t let that happen.”
When the Red Sox unloaded over a quarter of a billion dollars to the LA Dodgers last month, many instantly focused on Ortiz as the logical choice to shore up the Red Sox batting order by providing power and a run producing threat. We’ve also heard lately that Ben Cherington and his posse have mutual feelings about bringing back Ortiz into the Red Sox fold making the extension all but a done deal, at least hypothetically.
Ortiz wants a multi-year deal and the Red Sox will be inclined to give it to him with their financial freedom thanks to the Dodgers. Big Papi is quick to point out that his idea of multi-year deal is not the four or five year length that some people perceive but the two-year type. He knows his age is creeping up to the retirement level and he’s currently battling a nagging Achilles strain that has sidelined him for almost two months and likely the remainder of the season, making these next two-years his potential swan song in Boston, should a deal get done.
With Ortiz reiterating the desire to win, this should coincide with management’s intent to compete for the division next season making the negotiations somewhat easier if the organization is serious about winning in 2013. While the free-agent class has it’s headliners in Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, it’s doubtful the Red Sox will pursue either player as both are surely to cash in big with some free-spending clubs; the Sox are unlikely to be one. Gone are the massive deals that Cherington just parted ways with, meaning any additions via the winter hot stove will be smart, team focused decisions in the range of one-year deals with club options, similar to the one Adrian Beltre received. Not exactly the blockbuster deals that make a team an instant contender on paper.
While this may not be what Ortiz had in mind, it doesn’t mean the club can’t add the necessary pieces to compete next season. One example is to look at starting pitchers like Dan Haren and Gavin Floyd, who could be available and might provide some much needed depth on the mound. Of course given their shaky seasons this year, they could be considered as another Ben Cherington gamble, something that Ortiz could be growing tired of in his last couple of years in Boston. Then again, if the short-term gambles pay off, then maybe this club has what it takes to contend as early next season, with that charge centered around David Oritz.
For the record, when asked what Ortiz thinks the Red Sox need in order to be successful in 2013, he simply answered:
“I would go and try and get another three David Ortiz’s.”
“We need more bad [bleepity bleepers].”
“Go out and get good players.”
“I think we need to get a little of everything.”
While some will be quick to jump on Ortiz for his comments, saying he is throwing his teammates under the bus, this season hasn’t exactly been a dream for the Sox organization. And Big Papi is merely speaking the truth. This roster certainly has good players, it’s just not good enough to compete, not now and likely not ever with the current roster. Adjustments and tinkering are needed and Big Papi is merely stressing the importance of that.
He did again use the comparison of what the Yankees are doing and how successful they’ve been and with talk earlier this past winter that he would consider joining the Evil Empire, these comments could be considered alarming. But when you consider that he’s stressed his desire to stay in Boston for at least the next two years, it’s likely his words are those when speaking with frustration. The way this year has gone, the frustration is warranted.