David Ortiz won’t risk Achilles with free agency looming

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Out since  July 17 with a strained Achilles’ tendon, David Ortiz wants to come back and play for the Red Sox as soon as possible. However, he made it clear Sunday that he’s thinking ahead to his upcoming free agency in deciding not to rush his return.

“If you go back and play sore, of course you could [tear it]. It’s not healed. It’s not ready and I don’t want to run that risk,” Ortiz told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m a free agent after this year and I don’t want to have a surgery going into free agency.”

It’s hard to blame Ortiz for thinking that way after what happened with Ryan Howard last year. Howard, playing on a sore Achilles, ruptured the tendon on the Phillies’ very last play of the season and missed nine months before returning July 6. If Ortiz were to suffer a similar injury, it’d ruin his chances of landing a multiyear deal and probably cost him a few million dollars in salary next year.

Still, Ortiz’s complaints about his contract situation can’t be endearing him to a Red Sox front office that has never been shy about paying the man. Of course, the Red Sox look at the history of designated hitters in their mid-30s and Ortiz’s body type and only want to go year to year with him. They see that as smart baseball sense. Ortiz looks at the deals handed to guys like John Lackey and Carl Crawford and sees his one-year contract as a lack of respect.

Ortiz will keep testing his Achilles with the hopes of returning in the near future. Currently five games back of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Red Sox desperately need him in the middle of their lineup.

 

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.