The Boston Red Sox are not alone in their pursuit of designated hitter David Ortiz. The Texas Rangers also have expressed serious interest in Ortiz, major-league sources say, envisioning him as a left-handed hitting replacement for their own free agent, Josh Hamilton.
The Red Sox still are considered the favorites to re-sign Ortiz, most likely to a two-year contract. However, free agents can begin signing with new teams once the market opens at midnight Friday. The involvement of the Rangers, and possibly other clubs, likely has increased Ortiz’s leverage in his negotiations with the Red Sox.
The Rangers’ interest, meanwhile, signals a willingness by the team to make significant changes this offseason, particularly if Hamilton departs. The addition of Ortiz, or a free agent of similar standing, such as outfielder Torii Hunter, would fundamentally change the Rangers’ clubhouse, giving it more of a boisterous edge.
Ortiz, who turns 37 on Nov. 18, appeared in only one game after July 16 last season due to a right Achilles strain. But in his first 89 games, he produced a 1.026 OPS, a figure that would have been his highest since 2007.
Michael Young was the Rangers’ most frequent DH last season; he had 275 at-bats in that spot, and no other Texas player had more than 93. Young, however, finished with a .682 OPS, the 15th-lowest in the AL.
If the Rangers lose Hamilton, as expected, they will need to replace his power. The potential loss of another free agent, Mike Napoli, only would add to the team’s offensive void. Napoli, a right-handed hitter, appeared primarily at catcher and first base last season.
Ortiz joined the Red Sox in 2003 and played a central role in helping the team win the World Series in 2004 and ’07. He has been on one-year deals in each of the past two seasons; the Sox exercised his $12.5 million option for ’11, and Ortiz accepted arbitration in ’12, settling on a $14.575 million salary.
Sox officials have made no secret of their desire to keep Ortiz, and Ortiz in turn has made no secret of his desire to stay in Boston. He has spoken highly of the team’s new manager, John Farrell, and recently expressed confidence to the Boston Globe that he would sign a new deal with the club. “Something will get done,” Ortiz said. “I feel good about it.”