The Boston Red Sox are very comfortable bucking a recent trend across Major League Baseball. They’ve got David Ortiz.
Ortiz signed a one-year contract extension with the Red Sox on Sunday that also includes options for 2016 and 2017. Ortiz’s new deal isn’t all that surprising given his recent production, but it’s still an anomaly at a time when most teams might be reluctant to shell out big bucks to a 38-year-old designated hitter.
“In a lot of different ways, David is an outlier, an exception to the rule,” Cherington explained during a press conference in Sarasota on Monday to announce Ortiz’s extension. “There just aren’t many guys that produce at the level that he has to this point in their career. You can’t really look at it as you would normally. Even as it relates to a contract discussion, you have to look at it differently.
“What we do know is that we always go off what we’ve seen most recently, and what we’ve seen most recently is a guy in 2013 — even putting playoffs aside, even in the regular season — he was one of the best hitters in the league. We don’t have any reason to believe that’s not going to continue for some period of time.”
Many teams across the American League have gone away from using a traditional designated hitter, especially an expensive one. The common approach nowadays involves rotating several players in and out of the DH slot based on matchups, health and overall roster construction.
Not the Red Sox, though. Boston is happy to have Ortiz — a staple in the middle of its order since 2003 — potentially hold down the role on an everyday basis through at least 2015.
“American League teams are doing that because they don’t have David Ortiz. I think if a team has David Ortiz, they wouldn’t be doing that,” Cherington said. “As David said, at some point in the future, there is going to be a time where he doesn’t feel like he could be doing what he has been doing, but we don’t see that time as coming anytime soon. Right now, it’s very clear that our best chance to win is to have him in the middle of the lineup as our DH.”
Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs, 103 RBIs and a .395 on-base percentage in 2013. He finished fourth in the majors with a .949 OPS — trailing only Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout.
Sure, Ortiz is entering his 18th major league season (12th with Boston) and doesn’t play the field. But the Red Sox will happily enjoy Ortiz’s offensive production in the middle of their order instead of getting cute when they don’t need to.