BOSTON (AP) _ David Ortiz got what he wanted a lot easier than he ever expected.

Ortiz, the face of the Red Sox since helping Boston end an 86-year World Series drought in 2004, finalized a $26 million,
two-year contract on Monday, a deal that could be worth up to $30 million if he avoid another significant Achilles tendon injury next year.

The soon-to-be 37-year old had expressed his preference for a two-year deal the past two seasons. The club decided that keeping him and agreeing to his desire was a good first move this  off season.

“I don’t think there was any doubt,” he said during a Fenway
Park news conference. “They approached me this year and our
negotiation this year was easier than ever. They know what they
were looking for. There wasn’t even ever a back and forth
situation. It was pretty much: `This is it and let’s agree with
it.’ They know the pieces they need to put together to be
successful this year.”

Ortiz gets a $1 million signing bonus payable on Jan. 15 and
salaries of $14 million next season and $11 million in 2014.

His 2014 salary would increase to $15 million if he has 20 or
fewer days on the disabled list next season caused by an Achilles
tendon injury– such as the one that limited him to one game after
July 16 this year. If he has 21-40 days on the DL next year caused
by an Achilles injury, his 2014 salary would go up to $13 million.

The 2014 salary would not escalate if he has 41 days or more on the
DL next year caused by an Achilles injury.

“After the season we identified a lot of things we wanted to do
this offseason,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “The most
important one was to get David signed. This is a very important
first step to our offseason. David has been an incredible performer
for the Red Sox for 10 years. What he’s done on the field speaks
for itself. He’s also been an incredible leader of the team as well
as one can possibly do that.”

Sitting at a table with Cherington to his right, one couldn’t
miss the World Series rings that Ortiz was wearing from 2004 and

Now, he’d like to help the team build from a last-place finish
and 69-93 record, Boston’s poorest since 1966.

“My focus right now is to provide what this organization
expects from me the next two years,” he said. “I’m a person that
likes to get prepared for a challenge. Ben talked to me during the
season and told me and a couple of my teammates he wants to build
an organization around us. It’s very painful to see what we went
through this season.”

During the club’s historic 2004 run, Big Papi had consecutive
game-ending hits in extra innings of Games 4 and 5 of the AL
championship series against the Yankees as the Red Sox became the
first major league team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a
best-of-seven postseason series.

The eight-time All-Star has 343 homers for Boston, fifth on the
team’s career list, and has 1,088 RBIs.

“We looked at the body of work and the track record. He’s been
incredibly productive and durable throughout the course of his
career,” Cherington said. “He’s been one of the more consistent
and durable players in the game over a long span of time. That gave
us the comfort to give him a two-year deal, which was important to

Ortiz, who will turn 37 on Nov. 18, is a career .285 hitter with
401 homers and 1,386 RBIs.

He was having another solid year, batting .318 with 23 homers
and 60 RBIs before going down with the Achilles injury in mid-July.

He played in just one game the rest of the season.

During an interview on NBC Sports Network in October, ex-Red Sox
manager Bobby Valentine said Ortiz “decided not to play anymore”
after Boston traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett
to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a move predicated on dumping salary.
Ortiz downplayed the issue in the first question of the news

“About the Bobby situation, I try to not add too much,” he
said. “You guys know it was something that made me feel
uncomfortable. You guys know I’ve been here the last 10 years and
know how I go about my business. The most important thing is you
guys are face to face with every day, and you already know how
important it is to be on the field and represent what I need to

He closed the answer with “It’s time to turn the page and move

Asked whether he’d like to finish his career after this
contract, the very personable Ortiz had a playful answer.

“The one thing I always keep in mind is when I’m full swinging
and the ball isn’t going anywhere, that’s when its time to go,” he
said, smiling. “But I haven’t gotten there yet.”

“We’re thrilled to keep him here. We want David to retire with
the Red Sox,” Cherington said. “We hope that’s many years from
now. Right now we’re happy that he’ll be sitting in the middle of
our lineup next year.”

Ortiz has played 10 seasons with the Red Sox after he was let go
by the Minnesota Twins.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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