David Ortiz says he wants one-year extension, optimistic about talks with Red Sox

January 29, 2014 - 2:13 pm
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, in a lengthy interview about his health, contract status and future on The Bradford Files podcast with WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, clarified some of his recent remarks about his desire to get an extension from the Red Sox beyond the 2014 season, the second year of a two-year, $30 million deal that the 38-year-old signed following the 2012 campaign. Ortiz, who ranked 10th in the big leagues with a .395 OBP, third with a .564 slugging mark and fourth with a .959 OPS in 2013, said that he has asked the Sox for a one-year extension of his current contract (to cover the 2015 season), and that he is optimistic about the shape of conversations with the club so far. "We're good. We're good. We talked, they're talking and I just asked for one year. I didn't ask for anything crazy. It wasn't like I asked for a five-year deal. It's a one-year extension I asked for," Ortiz said of his discussions with the club. "I've got a contract for this year. I was asking for a one-year extension for next year. I think, like I say, I think we had a great season last year and I'm walking into free agency after this season. We had a conversation, they're outlining what they plan on doing and they're going to come back to me with their answer at some point. ... Everything is going well. We had a great conversation. They are happy about what we talked about. I don't even know why people are spreading bad rumors." Ortiz said that his desire for an extension reflected his hope that he could play the 2014 campaign without a steady stream of inquiries about his pending free agent status. "I hate the fact that I've got to be asked about my contract through my free agency year. I have to deal with too many things beyond that. You know how that goes in our market. It is what it is," said Ortiz. "I keep on telling people that I'm not a contract person. I'm not a player that, just because he has a contract, you shut it down. I keep on improving myself every year. I think every organization in MLB would like to have a guy like myself. I go about my business, I do what I need to do, I have priorities while I play. "My priorities are to be sure I get things done. I think we have a pretty good season last year. I'm going to be a free agent after this year. I don't want to have contract talk with all of you every day. It distracts me, it's something that gets me thinking, and all I want to do through the season is just make sure I get the job done, make sure that I do what I do best without having to worry about anything else. In my case, I don't think I'm the worst-case scenario that any organization has to face when it comes down to that. I think I'm in pretty good shape, things are going good for the Red Sox, we'll be talking. They are thinking about what they want to do. They're going to come back to me at some point and we'll see where we're at. But I've been working out like I always do back in my Dominican Republic home." While Ortiz recently suggested that he would look for employment elsewhere in response to a question about what he'd do if the Sox didn't offer him a "long-term deal," Ortiz said that he was responding to a hypothetical in which the team showed no interest in retaining him. "I heard a comment the other day that came through the news about me saying that I'm going to go somewhere else. People sometimes take the wrong message. I was asked if the Red Sox don't want to offer me an extension, then what am I going to do? I'm not going to retire. I'll go somewhere else," said Ortiz. "Whoever offers me a contract, that's where I'm going to be. It's not a secret from no one that I want to be part of this organization. This is where I want to play. But it's a business. You're not supposed to be mad at no one. You just do what you got to do, you take what they give you and in the worst case, they don't offer you a contract and you go somewhere else. Those are the exact words I said. I don't think I said anything wrong. But people always want to make a big deal about things that you say. In my case, as long as I play, as long as I keep on doing what I do, I'm not going to beg nobody for nothing. I think I've earned what I've asked for, I prove myself every year." Ortiz suggested that he's preparing to do just that in 2014. Unlike his preparations for the 2013 season after he suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles in July 2012, he's feeling healthy and without doubts as he gets ready for the Sox' title defense in 2014. His physical concerns resolved, Ortiz suggested that he simply hopes for clarity -- whether in terms of having an extension from the Sox or not -- prior to the start of the year. "Baseball is unpredictable. Baseball is always going to be well represented by a guy like myself, and that's because I know what it takes to do what I do. I'm a businessman. I'm not just a baseball player. I know that this is a business that you've got to come in, day-in, day-out, and do what you've got to do. I know I'm a force here and I know the responsibility that I have to take with me. Nobody is going to change my mentality," said Ortiz. "I don't have a timetable [for talks about an extension]. But I wouldn't talk about it once the season is started. We all know that. I don't like talking about contracts once I've got to focus in on something else. That's why we started the talking early. "[Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino] was telling me you are the priority for us, so we want to do whatever it takes to do the right thing," he continued. "I believe in them. I hope this doesn't have to be something that gets to be a distraction. I hope that we get to where we want to be, where we need to be, before the season has started. I was expecting that before spring training started, to be honest with you, but the most important thing is that I'm getting prepared to have another monster season, I'm feeling good, I'm feeling way better than I felt last year." While Ortiz suggested that he wants an extension that covers the 2015 season, he said that he does not have an end point in mind when it comes to the conclusion of his career. He will let health and production dictate that subject. For now, given what he accomplished in 2013, retirement hasn't been on his mind. "I don't even know why people keep on asking me that question. I'm one of the most productive hitters in baseball, still, so those kinds of questions people ask to players that are way out of their game. I get that question asked every year. I don't know why. I got to the point where as long as I keep on hitting and as long as I keep on having fun, I'm going to keep on playing the game. A couple of years ago I was like, I can probably play a couple more years and then hang it up or whatever, but since I got injured in 2012, I had plenty of time off and I [had] nothing to do [during] it," said Ortiz. "It's a career that is not like a doctor's career or your career or a lawyer's career where you hit the age of 70 and you can continue what you're doing. My career is pretty short so I'm a guy that likes having fun, I like doing what I do, I think I'm still good at it. As long as I can keep on having fun and doing what I do, I'm going to keep playing. There's not going to be a date for that. It's not going to be, 'One more year and it's over.' I just won a World Series. That's all that matters -- winning -- to me. As long as I keep on doing that, I think I can keep on playing baseball." To listen to the complete interview, click here.