David Ortiz might be thinking he retired at just the right time. The former Boston Red Sox designated hitter called it a career after the 2016 season. Now he’s a television analyst for Fox Sports, and like the rest of us, he’s also blown away by how slow the current free agent market is developing.
Ortiz expressed those thoughts in a way only he could while speaking to the media ahead of the Red Sox Winter Weekend in Boston.
“I’m just wondering who the hell is going to play this season? Because nobody has signed yet,” Ortiz said via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “What’s going on? It’s almost spring training, bro. What’s the deal? That’s a question you guys should ask the owners.”
That’s exactly what Red Sox reporters did on Friday. In fact, free agency was the topic of the day as many high ranking Red Sox executives gathered for this weekend’s events.
Team Chairman Tom Werner didn’t offer much, other than to confirm reports that the team is in “active negotiations” with free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez. Those same reports indicate the Red Sox are offering Martinez five years for anywhere from $100 million to $125 million. Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, has said his client is seeking $200 million.
While Werner didn’t talk numbers, it seems pretty clear there’s a wide gap that neither side seems willing to budge from. That seems to be the issue many of this year’s top free agents are running into.
Martinez is one of over 80 major league free agents still to sign. That’s why Ortiz is wondering how many of those players will end up signing before opening day. It’s not unusual for players to wait deep into February to sign, but never has the list been this long and never have teams been less willing to meet market prices.
For what it’s worth, Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski is optimistic the market will thaw before too long.
“At some point, the ice is going to melt, and it is going to move very fast,” Dombrowski told the crowd at a Red Sox Town Hall. “The players want more money than the clubs have been willing to offer … if you want to play, it’s going to change, and I think it’s going to change very quickly”
Boras, meanwhile, had this to say Friday to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Boras remains confident, impassioned. In story: “If there are teams that tell their fan base they truly want to compete for a World Series, these gifted players will receive market value. If they do not compete, and instead choose to profit, we will have to address the system.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 19, 2018
The jockeying for position continues.
Dombrowski is usually pretty good at reading the market. With that in mind, there’s no reason to doubt his perspective that things will start to move sooner than later. But given the lack of action so far, we’ll have to see it to really believe it.
In the meantime, we’ll echo Ortiz by wondering who among these free agents we’ll see in a spring training camp or even on an opening day lineup.
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