With the MLB trade deadline looming just over a month away and the Boston Red Sox sitting 9 games out in the division race, the time may soon come when general manager Ben Cherington has to consider becoming a seller.
We saw it happen last season, when veterans such as Jon Lester were shipped out in late July as the team made moves with an eye on the future. The way things are going it would seem we are in store for a similar approach at this year’s trade deadline, but one veteran that we know won’t be changing uniforms is David Ortiz.
"“No chance,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe. “This is the team I’ll be with the rest of my career.“I couldn’t do that to my family. I couldn’t just go to another team and fit in after all these years. I want to be here.”"
Most players would prefer not to uproot their lives and move to a new city on short notice, but not everyone has the luxury of having the decision left in their hands. Ortiz does. As a 10/5 player (ten years in the league, five with the same franchise), Ortiz has the power to veto any trade. He’s not going anywhere unless he wants to.
As flattering as Ortiz admits it would be for other teams to be chasing after him at the deadline, he has no intention of going anywhere.
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Despite that he is struggling through the worst season of his career at the plate, hitting .231/.316/.407 through his first 60 games of the season, Ortiz would garner plenty of interest from contending teams if the Red Sox were to make him available. He remains one of the game’s most recognizable players, so his star power alone would be a draw for teams looking to increase interest for the stretch run. His postseason resume speaks for itself, so regardless of his decline this season, there are few hitters that would be as feared as Ortiz in a clutch spot come playoff time.
Ortiz is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, but he has $10 million team options in each of the next two years that automatically vest if he reaches 425 plate appearances. Ortiz is already more than halfway there this season, so barring injury, it’s a good bet that he will lock in next year’s option.
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If the Red Sox weren’t worried that a team they trade him to would pick up those option years, they could consider trying to get some value for him in a trade this summer, then bring him back as a free agent next year. As they learned the hard way last season, that plan carries significant risk. Lester had no intention of going anywhere a year ago, but once he got a taste of what it was like playing for another organization, it made it much easier for him to sign his free agent deal in a new city.
As much as Ortiz means to this city, trading him would actually solve a lot of the team’s problems. Not only by removing another underachieving hitter from the lineup, but by allowing Hanley Ramirez to slide into his DH role, drastically improving the outfield defense. That alone would be reason to at least consider moving Ortiz if they could get good value for him.
Cherington’s phone will be ringing as the trade deadline draws near and Ortiz’s name will almost certainly come up. Even if Cherington were bold enough to deal away an icon that is beloved by Red Sox fans, it may not be up to him. If the opportunity does come up, Ortiz will have the final ruling and he has no desire to leave Boston.