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This time, Ortiz got what he wanted

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  November 5, 2012 07:37 PM

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The Red Sox celebrated the return of David Ortiz on Monday, throwing a catered afternoon press conference at Fenway Park to announce his new contract.

Eight-year-old D'Angelo Ortiz wore a tie for the occasion and his father broke out his 2004 World Series ring, the diamonds glittering in the television lights.

"Today is a good day for everybody," Big Papi said.

The atmosphere stood in sharp contrast to the previous two seasons when Ortiz's contract status was a touchy subject.

The Red Sox picked up Ortiz's one-year option for 2011, electing not to negotiate a new contract. The sides were minutes away from an arbitration hearing last season when they agreed on another one-year deal.

Ortiz was paid well on both occasions, but wondered aloud why he wasn't being accorded the same security as players who had not accomplished a fraction of what he has in Boston.

Now he has satisfaction in the form of a two-year contract that could be worth as much as $30 million.

That Ortiz would stay with the Red Sox was never really in doubt. What changed was his leverage.

Once the Red Sox traded Josh Becket, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers in August, retaining Ortiz became more of a priority. As the Sox rebuild following a 93-loss season, he represents a connection to their past, a drawing card for fans and a solid piece in the middle of the lineup.

Cherington and team president Larry Lucchino met with Ortiz during the final series of the season in New York. It was the start of a relatively uneventful process.

"They approached me really well. Our negotiations this year were easier than ever. They knew what they were looking for," Ortiz said. "It wasn't even a going back-and-forth type of situation. It was pretty much this is it and I agreed with it."

The Red Sox are taking a risk. Ortiz turns 37 later this month and spent the final 11 weeks of last season on the disabled list with a strained right Achilles tendon.

But Ortiz also hit .318 with a 1.026 OPS last season and remains the best designated hitter in the game. In 10 seasons with the Sox, his 343 home runs are fifth in franchise history.

"I think there's some real benefit in committing to a two-year deal in this case because we are trying to build something and we want David to be a part of it," Cherington said. "We don't need to have that conversation again at the end of next year."

The contract almost guarantees that Ortiz will finish his career with the Red Sox. But he's not thinking of retirement quite yet.

"I'm from the Dominican, so I might be 30 next year, you never know," he joked.

The Achilles injury did give the Red Sox pause and that was reflected in how his contract was constructed.

Ortiz received a $1 million signing bonus (payable by Jan. 15) and a base salary of $14 million for 2013. His salary for 2014 is $11 million and can expand to $15 million if Ortiz spends fewer than 20 days on the disabled list in 2013 because of the Achilles injury.

If he has 21-40 days on the DL next year caused by the Achilles injury, his 2014 salary would go up to $13 million.

There will be other precautions, too. After speaking with Cherington and ownership, Ortiz is likely to skip the World Baseball Classic in March.

"That might be an interruption between the things they are planning to do for next season and being aware of being ready to go for the season," Ortiz said. "Right now, that is on hold. We"ll see how things go. It seems like they don't want me to be out there."

For more on Ortiz's contract, see the Globe on Tuesday.

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