David Ortiz is having his best season since 2007 and he's made it clear that he won't settle for another one-year contract.
Unable to secure a multi-year deal last winter with the Red Sox, Ortiz signed a one-year contract just before an arbitration hearing for $14.575 million -- the highest single-season salary ever for a designated hitter. Ortiz made headlines on Wednesday by suggesting he was "humiliated" and "embarrassed" in the offseason. He's been roundly criticized for those comments, although in some fashion it's just typical Ortiz grumbling at this point. It's background noise.
To me, the most interesting quote from the USA Today interview was this: "If you go crazy and give contracts to whoever comes along despite not knowing how they're going to do, then you don't give me my due consideration, even though I do my thing every year, (expletive) that."
He hit .264 with 23 home runs in 2008. He hit .238 with an OPS under .800 in 2009. Those aren't great numbers for a designated hitter, especially one making $13 million at the time. Even last season, when he rebounded to hit .300 for the first time since 2007, he failed to deliver in September, hitting one home run and driving in eight runs. In the team's final eight games -- the Red Sox lost six of them -- he hit .217 and scored one run and drove in one run.
I can understand Ortiz's viewpoint: He hasn't received a long-term deal while non-legendary Red Sox like Crawford and Lackey have. There's no doubt loyalty is important on some level, but I'd argue the Red Sox have shown their loyalty by paying a designated hitter over $79 the past six seasons, not all of which were exactly stellar.
Ortiz will turn 37 this offseason. As great as he's been this year, that's no guarantee he'll be great next year. The Red Sox will also have to determine whether another AL team would give Ortiz the contract he seeks. There really aren't that many options: the Rangers have Michael Young under contract for one more season (although they could move him to first base), the Angels have Kendrys Morales, the Tigers will have Victor Martinez returning, the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays aren't likely spend that kind of money on a DH, the Yankees ... well, now that would be interesting.
The smart move would be to keep Ortiz on a one-year contract. Ortiz might find out what the market is for a 37-year-old DH seeking a multi-year contract.