In a largely expected move on Thursday morning, the Boston Red Sox exercised their $12.5 million club option on David Ortiz. The information was relayed via tweets from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.
The decision comes even as Ortiz has commented this week that he would prefer Boston not to exercise the option and instead offer him the security of a multi-year extension: "I'm not comfortable coming back just for one year because it's going to be the same roller-coaster that I had this year," Ortiz commented to WEEI's Rob Bradford.
To many in and out of Boston, Ortiz has unquestionably produced at a level deserving of a multi-year deal. In 2010, Ortiz hit .270 with an 899 OPS, 32 home runs, and 102 RBI. While his 2010 production, measured sabermetrically, didn't approach his career years between 2005 and 2007, it did outstrip a $12.5 million salary.
The issue at stake for the Red Sox front office doesn't seem to be Ortiz' production; rather, exercising his option seems all about roster flexibility.
Were the Red Sox and Ortiz to negotiate a two or three-year deal, surely they could have arrived at a yearly salary closer to $10 million. But by choosing the more expensive, short-term option, Boston has allowed itself the freedom to sign or acquire a big slugger in 2011.
With Prince Fielder on the block and Adrian Gonzalez a free agent in twelve months, avoiding an extension with Ortiz seems a shrewd move.
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