So it’s only fitting the designated hitter and the Red Sox reached a salary agreement in the final moments before Monday’s arbitration hearing, preserving the team’s decade-long streak without a court appearance.
The team confirmed the deal Monday. Both parties reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $14.575 million, marking the midway point of negotiations. Ortiz requested $16.5 million in his salary request, while the Red Sox offered $12.65 million.
Although the deal falls short of Ortiz’s desired multiyear contract, it’s the best outcome, considering the lose-lose situation that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would have faced, otherwise.
Had both parties not settled out of court, the Red Sox would have either forked over roughly $4 million to Ortiz –– with less money to spend on the market –– or risked souring their relationship with the iconic slugger in court.
Now in this case, Cherington simultaneously appeased Ortiz –– he is set to be the highest-paid designated hitter in history –– and still saved enough cash to spend down the road if necessary.
“It’s just one of those things that when we all had everyone in the room together it just made sense that we would get to the midpoint and get it done,” Cherington told the Boston Globe. “We always told David we were happy to have him back and wanted him back on our team this year and we made that clear again to him.”
Despite the slight uptick in payroll, the Red Sox made the right move. Even at 36, Ortiz played at an elite level, batting .309 in 2011 with 29 home runs, 96 RBIs, a .554 slugging percentage and a .952 OPS.
With those numbers in 2011, Ortiz wound up with the eighth highest OPS in the majors (.952), totaled the seventh-best slugging percentage (.554) and finished in the top 25 in home runs and RBIs.
So a raise for the designated hitter wasn’t far-fetched. The agreement also squashed any potential spring training distractions on Ortiz’s end if the slugger didn’t receive his desired compensation.
Ultimately, both sides are satisfied. And Rolando Arrojo still remains the last Red Sox player to go to arbitration.