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Ortiz, Red Sox agree on two-year deal

Boston Herald

November 03. 2012 7:28PM

This time, David Ortiz had a market. This time, the Red Sox didn't have arbitration to extend the process.

So this time, the two sides didn't mess around.

When the offseason began, re-signing Ortiz seemed like a no-brainer, and Friday night the Red Sox made it exactly that by reaching terms with the slugging designated hitter and franchise icon on a two-year deal worth $26 million, with incentives that could take it up to $30 million, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

And with that, all parties can breathe a sigh of relief.

Ortiz, who took in the Celtics' home opener at the Garden Friday night, couldn't confirm the deal - "(My agent) hasn't called me so I don't know where they are at right now, but they were getting close," he said - but was pleased about getting two years.

"You all know that I want to be back," he said. "I've been here for a while and I mean, it don't get any better."

Ortiz didn't want to leave, and the Red Sox didn't want to lose him, and after years of taking their hardest lines against him, the Sox finally relented and paid him more than they probably wanted, but not by so much that it will impact their budget in any appreciable way.

What the Sox didn't want to do was let Ortiz test free agency and introduce another variable to the equation. Unlike last year, when the arrivals of Albert Pujols to the Angels and Prince Fielder to the Tigers all but eliminated Ortiz' market, this year he projected to have no shortage of suitors.

The Rangers, who stand to lose Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli in free agency, were on record that they planned to make a big push for Ortiz, who would have solidified the middle of their lineup alongside Adrian Beltre.

The Orioles also need a designated hitter, and Ortiz would have transformed their streaky offense. Even the Indians, with new manager Terry Francona, provided a bit of a draw.

With so many teams potentially having the ability to muck things up, the Red Sox decided to leave nothing to chance. They engaged Ortiz' representatives and hammered out a deal whose sticking point was money, since the sides had already agreed on two years.

While the Red Sox could've played hardball with Ortiz and stuck to a one-year deal by meeting him on his reasonable terms - the soon-to-be-37-year-old knew he wasn't getting a three- or four-year deal and has never publicly demanded one - the Sox enter the offseason on good terms with one of their best players.

That hasn't always been the case, with the prideful Ortiz periodically upset at ownership for only giving him a four-year deal (for $52 million) in 2007. At the time, he was told club policy limited contracts to that length. Ortiz then stewed as a succession of inferior players received five-, six-, and even seven-year deals: J.D. Drew (five years, $70 million), John Lackey (five years, $82 million), Daisuke Matsuzaka (six years, $52 million), Carl Crawford (seven years, $142 million) and Adrian Gonzalez (seven years, $154 million), to name five.

There shouldn't be any hard feelings now. If Ortiz produces and stays healthy, he'll earn more money over each of the next two years than he did in 2012 ($14.575 million).

Red Sox notes

While the Sox did tender a qualifying offer of $13.3 million to Ortiz, they chose not to do so with any of their other free agents, meaning the team will not receive compensation if those players sign elsewhere.

The only player with even an outside shot of receiving the qualifying offer was Cody Ross, but the Sox declined. Ross hits the market as one of the more attractive outfielders available, with the Braves reportedly showing interest.

Red Sox/MLB