Arbitration Offer Enough to Lure Back Ortiz?


Finally we have seen some sort of action from GM Ben Cherington, albeit it was an almost mandatory step to avoid a riot outside Yawkey Way.

We learnt late Wednesday night that the Red Sox had offered salary arbitration to DH and fan favorite, David Ortiz and relief pitcher Dan Wheeler.  While Wheeler has yet to really prove himself out of the bullpen and would garner one draft pick if he signs on with someone else, it’s Big Papi’s scenario that has everyone talking about.

By offering Ortiz the arbitration, the club will at least get two draft picks should Big Papi take his services elsewhere.  But this offer is a little more than acquiring future assets.  It has more to do with trying to lure Ortiz back to Boston.

Last season Ortiz was one of the most productive DH in the American League when comparing numbers.  The now 36-year old hit .309, 29 home runs, 96 RBI’s and 40 doubles.  As Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe notes, Ortiz had an OPS of .953 which was well ahead of Michael Young of the Rangers (.854) and the Tiger’s, Victor Martinez (.850).

Ortiz has proven he has plenty left to contribute offensively and with a thin market for DH, an one-year offer to come back to the place where he has all but cemented his legacy might be enticing enough.

He made $12.5 million last season and has until Dec. 7th to accept of decline the offer the Sox made to him.  Should he decline and go the route via arbitration, then Ortiz would likely be in for a raise.

The problem arises around the fact that Ortiz wants a multi-year deal.  Reports surfaced last week that the Orioles had made a two-year offer to Big Papi, with the dollar amount not disclosed.

It’s hard to imagine that Ben Cherington will want to go the route of arbitration, considering Theo Epstein never went there once.  Sure it’s not fair to hang that over Cherington’s head, but if the first offer he makes is to the beloved Big Papi, Red Sox Nation could unleash a rather harsh furry towards the management.

Consider that Papelbon walked into Philadelphia and now if Ortiz either signs with another team or goes to arbitration, it won’t look good on Cherington.  He will be gauged to Epstein for the first year or so until he proves he makes the right decisions.  It comes with the territory of working in Boston; every move is under the microscope

If Kevin Youkilis doesn’t get traded this offseason, and it’s likely he won’t, it’s also unlikely he won’t become the team’s full time designated hitter.  Should this scenario unfold then Ortiz becomes even more valuable to the Red Sox.

The way I see it, the only thing that would hold Ortiz from accepting the offer is because he’s wanting a multi-year deal.  What if he declines the offer and then his party and Cherington hammer out a deal prior to the arbitration hearing?  Sounds easy doesn’t it, but when it comes to holding on to a Boston icon who’s talents aren’t washed up yet, why not make this work.

In two-years time, Ortiz may be ready to retire and then he could ride into the sunset with his Red Sox jersey on and the big number 34 fading away, reminding us all of what he did during his tenure in Boston.  What a site that would be.

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