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Ortiz, Red Sox talking one-year extension

Boston Herald

February 21. 2014 10:12PM
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz jokes around with a videographer before batting practice during spring training Friday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz and the Red Sox are talking contract, and both sides would like to reach a resolution before the season begins.

A source confirmed a report that the sides have opened discussions. Ortiz and his agent, Fernando Cuza, met with members of ownership as well as the front office.

The designated hitter and franchise icon is on the record that he’s seeking a one-year, $15 million extension for the 2015 season. Given those reasonable parameters, as well as the willingness of both sides to negotiate, it won’t be a surprise if a deal is struck here.

The Red Sox have a couple of ways to decrease the possibility that Ortiz’ contractual status reclaims the news cycle at this time next year. They could construct a perpetual mutual option like the one that knuckleballer Tim Wakefield played under in 2008 and 2009. However, the yearly uncertainty of that scenario makes a player of Ortiz’ production unlikely to accept it.

A more likely possibility would be a one-year extension with a vesting option for 2016 based on playing time and health.

And if the Red Sox really want to nip this in the bud, they could give him a straight two-year extension that would take him to age 40.

General manager Ben Cherington wouldn’t discuss or acknowledge negotiations with Ortiz but spoke in general terms of his importance to the franchise.

“As you guys know, we prefer not to talk about these things or to get into details of those talks publicly,” Cherington said. “David’s a very important guy. We all know that. Certain guys earn the right to have a hearing and the conversation. He’s certainly one of them.”

Capuano signs

The Red Sox signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a one-year deal, according to a big league source, filling the veteran depth role created by the departure of Ryan Dempster.

Capuano, 35, will receive a $2.25 million base salary, with incentives that could push the deal to $5 million, pending a physical. He is a West Springfield native.

Capuano pitched for the Dodgers last year, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. Lifetime, he is 73-83 with a 4.27 ERA. He has made 209 starts and just 29 relief appearances during his nine-year career, but he’ll likely open the season in the Red Sox bullpen.

The Sox have had interest in Capuano before. The team nearly acquired him during the collapse in September 2011 to start during the final week of the season.

High hopes for Will

This clearly is a big season for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has gained 12 pounds after an offseason of weight and flexibility training.

“He had a good offseason,” Cherington said. “He’s in good shape, he’s strong, he’s getting his work in now. The talent is going to allow Will to be a really good player.

“His career start is not unlike a lot of guys that go onto really good major league careers. His first 600 plate appearances or whatever, there’s a lot of power. He’s proven he can play third base. He’s certainly not a finished product, and he knows that. But the arrow’s pointing up in our estimation.”

For all his struggles last year, Middlebrooks has 32 homers in 660 big league plate appearances, and right-handed power is becoming a precious commodity.“It’s hard to find guys that do what he can do and the raw power and the ease of the raw power from line to line in any ballpark,” Cherington said. “There’s just not a lot of guys that can do that.”

Peavy progresses

Jake Peavy took the mound for the first time this spring following a minor finger injury that had limited him to flat-ground work. . . .

Ownership addressed the team before Thursday’s workout, focusing not on the World Series that was just won, but the work ahead.

Nineteen-year-old lefty Francisco Tena has been suspended for the first 50 games of the season following a positive drug test under the minor league drug program.

Red Sox/MLB