Cherington: 'Still working' on Ortiz deal

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox want David Ortiz back. David Ortiz wants to be back and finish his career with the Red Sox.

The free-agent designated hitter and the club are reportedly in agreement on the length of a contract -- two years -- but the salary remains an issue. The Red Sox have until midnight Friday to come to terms with Ortiz before he's able to negotiate with other teams.

If the sides can't come to an agreement before then, the Red Sox will make him a qualifying offer of $13.3 million, which would guarantee the team a draft pick as compensation if Ortiz signs with another club. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hopes to avoid all of that.

"We're working on it and we've been talking to David since the end of the season," Cherington said during an interview Thursday night on Boston sports radio WEEI. "It's been a good conversation and everyone knows that we'd like to keep him. I think there's mutual interest. We've had a lot of talks and we've made up some ground in some areas, but we still have some work to do. We'll keep working on it.

"If we get past tomorrow night, we'll continue to work on it. We remain hopeful we'll keep him in a Red Sox uniform next year."

As Cherington explained, the traditional arbitration process no longer exists. Unlike a year ago, this won't drag on through the offseason and both sides hope to have a solution soon.

"We have a guy who's been here for a long time and he's been an important part of the team and we want to keep. It's just a matter of trying to find a deal that works for him and works for us. We're still working on it and hopefully we'll be able to get something done," Cherington said.

The Red Sox are also in talks with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross. Similar to the Ortiz situation, the Red Sox hope the sides can come to an agreement.

Cherington explained that when the sides met last winter before Ross signed a one-year deal with Boston, the idea was to make sure Ross would be in a better situation this offseason and would want to remain with the Red Sox.

"We didn't get the job done on a team basis, but it did work out for him. He had a good year and it ended up being the right place for him, the right ballpark, the right environment and all that. So, he's in a better position this year than he was last year and that's good for him.

"It creates a bigger challenge for us in trying to find a deal that works for him and works for us. We have talked and talked a lot. Time will tell and if we get past tomorrow night he'll have options and we have to weigh what it would take to sign him versus alternatives in the market and that's the process we're going through now."