Jon Heyman of SI.com writes that the Red Sox “seem pretty confident” that David Ortiz will return on a two-year deal if he doesn’t accept arbitration.
Ortiz, 36, earned $12.5 million this season while batting .309/.398/.554 with 29 home runs, 96 RBI and a .953 OPS over 605 plate appearances. Heyman was recently told by one agent that the veteran slugger could get a one-year deal valued at $16 million if he accepts Boston’s offer of arbitration.
And so, the question Ortiz needs to ask himself is whether he would rather take the higher annual salary on a one-year deal and test the market again next offseason or accept a lesser annual salary (say a little over $10 million per season) on a two-year deal. Considering that aging-DH types are being priced out of the free agent market, the security of the two-year deal looks like the smart move.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.