By Sean McAdam
David Ortiz said recently -- and repeatedly -- that he didn't want just a one-year deal with the Red Sox. The Red Sox, undoubtedly, didn't want to pay a designated hitter, even one as productive as Ortiz, 12.5 million.
And yet, faced with a ticking clock and unable to come up with another solution, that's what both sides ended up with Thursday, with the Red Sox exercising their one-year option on Ortiz for 2011.
No more, no less.
The deal keeps Ortiz under the Red Sox control for another season as the team's DH, a role he has served for most of the last eight seasons.
"We're very happy to get this resolved today in a manner which was ultimately acceptable to both parties,'' said general manager Theo Epstein in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. ''David is a player who is very important to our ownership and to our fans and given these feelings, the fact that he's still very productive and the fact that there was a one-year solution built in to the contract, this seemed not only the most likely outcome but the one that balanced all the various factors in the most appropriate manner.''
Epstein acknowledged that the two sides tried but failed to reach agreement on a deal which would have extended Ortiz's stay.
"But we couldn't find anything that made as much sense as the one-year commitment,'' Epstein said. "In the end, David understands this outcome and is very much OK with it and in the end is committed to the 2011 Red Sox.''
Asked if he thought it possible to still work out an extension before Opening Day, Epstein said: ''You never say never. Things could always come up that cause you to turn in a new direction. But at this point, the feeling is we explored it, it didn't work out.''
Ortiz did not respond to a request for a comment.
Ortiz has been the team's' full-time DH for every season since 2003. He hit 32 homers with 102 RBI in 2010 and posted an .899 OPS. For the second season in a row, he struggled mightily early season, finishing April with a single homer and four RBI.
But he rebounded soon after, earning American League Player of the Month for May and reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI plateau for the first time since 2007.
"He's still very productive,'' said Epstein, "arguably the best and most impactful player at his this position in the game...I think each of the last year years, the most impressive part of David's game performance has been the way he's bounced back from the tough starts...The fact that he was able to dig himself out of really difficult holes both times and go on to put up impressive seasons, that was encouraging.''
Without offering specifics, Epstien maintained that Ortiz was "cool'' with the one-year option being exercised, despite his many public comments in recent months that he would not be satisfied with a deal that didn't go beyond 2011.
''I think in the end, he realized that we werem't in a position to give him what he was looking for with a multi-year arrangement,'' said Epstein, "and this was an outcome that was acceptable to both sides. That was important to us, to be honest with you. I don't think we were interested in picking up the option if it was going to be seen as burdensome or unfair to the player.
"That was a component of these talks, to make sure that ultimately David was content and comfortable playing on the option. Because if youre going to pick up an option of this magnitude, you want to make sure it works for both sides. So hes happy now. We made sure of that before we reached our final decision.''
At 12.5 million, Ortiz will easily be the highest-paid DH in the game. The Texas Rangers Thursday passed on Vladimir Guerrero's 9 million option. Guerrero and Ortiz had similar production numbers in 2010.