David Ortiz has been a staple in Boston's lineup for the past 10 years, and he's open to continuing the relationship even longer. But for the second straight offseason, the Red Sox will need to work out a new contract with the All-Star slugger.
Ortiz, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, told the Boston Herald before Sunday's game against the Orioles that his next contract isn't about the money, although it's clear he'd prefer to sign a multiyear deal in order to avoid continuing to go year-to-year with his contracts.
"In my case, it's not even all about the money," Ortiz said. "It's all about respect. That's the way I see it."
Ortiz has certainly earned the respect of his teammates and Boston fans over the years. He's won two World Series titles, has been selected to eight All-Star Games and will end up going down as one of the most feared power hitters in the Red Sox' illustrious history. The 36-year-old hopes that's enough to earn him a multiyear deal that will allow him to retire with the club he's been with since 2003.
"Yeah, of course, it's something I don't want to be worried about anymore," Ortiz reportedly said. "If I can play, I can play. You can't take that away from me. I think it's easier for me not to be answering the questions you're asking me right now the whole year.
"It's been, what, three years now that I've got to be answering this question, and I've been one of the most productive players on this ballclub. Why me?"
Ortiz was on pace to post impressive totals again in 2012 before hitting the shelf for an extended period of time. He hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games before injuries derailed his season.
The Red Sox enter the upcoming offseason in a unique situation, having gone through a dismal year and having made the big salary-clearing trade with the Dodgers in August. We'll soon see if Ortiz is part of the equation moving forward, but the Sox front office has shown a desire in the past to keep the veteran around.
"You're about to find out," Ortiz told the Herald of a potential return. "I'm wide open to come back and play here. I know I'm up to the challenge. But at some point, it's not on me."
The Red Sox could be more active this offseason than they were entering 2012. If there's one thing that will stay the same, however, it's that Ortiz will very much be a focal point.