Red Sox to step up David Ortiz talks

Updated: October 9, 2012, 3:51 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

After the Boston Red Sox concluded their dismal 93-loss season, general manager Ben Cherington said re-signing David Ortiz would be a priority in the offseason. While the sides have had informal talks, serious conversations with the free-agent designated hitter will begin at "some point next week," according to a team source.

Ortiz, 36, missed 71 of Boston's final 72 games due to a right Achilles strain but said last week in New York that he felt good and should be able to begin his normal offseason workout regimen next month.

"David is someone who we feel strongly about bringing back, and we're trying to figure out a way to do that and we hope that happens," Cherington said in New York.

Cherington also said last week that the club is in talks on a new contract with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross.

Ortiz hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games. His 1.026 slugging percentage would have led all of baseball had he finished with enough at-bats to qualify in the rankings.

A year ago, Ortiz accepted arbitration from the Red Sox but contract negotiations dragged on through the winter until, finally, he signed a one-year deal worth $14.58 million on the day he was scheduled for an arbitration hearing.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the process for a player like Ortiz is different this offseason. Instead of arbitration, teams have the option of making a qualifying offer (based on the average salary of the top 125 players in the league) to their free agents. In Ortiz's case, that would mean a pay cut because the salary is believed to be in the neighborhood of $13 million.

Ortiz has been vocal about wanting a multiyear deal for a few years now, and the Red Sox might be in position to offer one after shedding so much salary in their July deadline trade of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford and pitcher Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also, the Red Sox now need his bat more than ever after dealing third baseman Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox in June.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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