David Ortiz gave an interview with WEEI, and the big topic, not surprisingly, was his future in Boston. He has a one-year, $12.5 million option. Despite the fact that’s well above the market rate for aging DH’s these days, he wants a two year deal. Why two years? Here’s why, according to Big Papi:
“I’m not comfortable coming back just for one year because it’s going to be the same roller-coaster that I had this year . . . I just want to cut out all the crap and go back to the guy I was before, a happy guy who doesn’t have to be answering questions that have nothing to with anything but controversy . . . That’s where I came back to not wanting just one year, because I know it’s going to be just the same thing. As soon as you struggle for a week, it’s going to be the same thing. People saying you are old, saying you have no bat speed anymore. People talking all kind of crap.”
Like they wouldn’t ask those same questions if he was under a two year deal? Indeed, it would probably be worse, with the “kind of crap” people talking being of the “oh God, we’re stuck with him for 2012 too?” variety. If he’s under a one year deal and he struggles, at least people might take a slightly more philosophical “well, he’s gone after this year” approach.
The fact is that if Ortiz is expecting things to go back to the way they were in 2004-2007, he’s dreaming. Because fans and the media in Boston may be tough, but they’re not dumb. They know that when players reach a certain age that their skills diminish and eventually disappear. They can’t simply say “no worries, Ortiz will be smacking the ball around like crazy soon enough” because as time goes on that simply won’t be true at some point. It was nice that Ortiz was able to rebound from a slow start this season. But there will come a time when he doesn’t, and he can’t expect people to ignore that possibility.
And one final question: how much does Ortiz expect to be paid over two years? If he wants that $12 million or something close to it for both seasons — and given how confident he sounds in the interview, he likely does — a two-year deal would bring even more scrutiny down on him he’s seen previously. Because that’s just a tremendous amount of scratch to give to a, um, 34 year-old DH.