Friday, September 24, 2010

David Ortiz' Complaints

David Ortiz seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. I'm not sure if these quotes are creating a shit storm on sports talk radio up in Boston (it wouldn't surprise me, since it normally doesn't take much), but they did rub me the wrong way.

1. When asked if he'd take a pay cut to stay in Boston, Ortiz indicated that he wouldn't, saying “I don’t feel like going anywhere else but if I have to, I have no choice.” He also said that he'd already taken a pay cut five years ago, when he signed his 4 year, $52 million extension.

2. According to Rob Bradford at WEEI, Ortiz doesn't want a one year deal, because he wouldn't be "comfortable".

First off, Ortiz didn't take a pay cut in 2005. According to the irreplaceable Cot's Baseball Contracts, his salaries since joining the Red Sox before the 2003 season have been $1.25 million and $4.6 million. After the 2004 World Series victory, Ortiz agreed to a two year extension worth $5.25 million in 2005 and $6.5 million in 2006. An option year was included, but the Sox again extended him, this time for 4 years and $52 million ($12.5 million per, plus $6 million in signing bonuses) through the 2010 season. So it is a little hard to stomach him saying that he took a pay cut to stay. Sure, that first extension was a bit below market value, but the second was near the top of the pay range for full time DHs. As a point of comparison, Hafner signed a four year, $57 million extension during the 2007 season, despite the fact he was still under contract for another year and a half. Since that deal the market for full time DHs has plummeted. Adam Dunn, who is essentially a DH at this point, signed for 2 years, $20 million before the 2008 season. Hideki Matsui and Vlad Guerrero had to settle for one year, $6 million on the open market, despite the fact that Matsui was coming off of a 28 home run, 90 RBI season.

Second, I don't know how the Red Sox could possibly go with a two year deal without a pay cut. It would be an insane over pay to go with a two year, $25 million deal, considering the fact they could just take one year at $12.5 million. I know he's the face of the franchise, but left handed sluggers can go from a stud to the proverbial glue factory in a year. I've written about it with the Howard deal, along with lots of other folks who are an awful lot smarter than I am. As a side note, I love the concept of a baby albatross. Two years for $20 seems reasonable to me - Ortiz gets his $12.5 million option picked up, with $7.5 million for 2012. That $7.5 million would be about market value for an older designated hitter. In his bounce back 2010, Ortiz has been worth $11.5 million, although he was only worth $13 million in 2008 and 2009 combined. When a player's production matches his salary one year out of three I just don't know how you can possibly go ahead and sign them up for another three years at that same salary. I think the Red Sox are smart enough to realize this; I hope David Ortiz is too.


  1. There is also the possibility that Ortiz decides to test the FA market, sees what sort of offers he is getting, and re-signs with the Sox. It seemed that the Sox aren't afraid to go over market value for a well liked player. The did the same thing with Tek, when he declined arbitration when he was expected to get at least $9 million, and signed him to what was essentially a 2 year, $8 million contract, when Tek was coming off a 1 WAR season. Based on Fangraphs value calculations, Tek was worth about $5.1 million.

  2. That is a good point, although I think there isn't any reason to reach that point, given the $12.5 million option. Also, the 1 WAR is probably generous; most defensive systems (UZR, for example) don't even try to address catcher defense because it is so tricky.