For the past two seasons, the Red Sox have taken a year-to-year approach to the 36-year-old Ortiz, picking up a one-year, $12.5 million team option before the 2011 season and settling on a one-year, $14.575 million contract for 2012. Before both seasons, Ortiz was adamant about preferring a multiyear deal. And in both situations, the Red Sox and Ortiz failed to see eye to eye in that regard.
In the midst of his best season since 2007 and the only All-Star on the Red Sox roster, Ortiz remains bitter about his contract. He told USA Today the process he went through before this season, when he accepted the team's offer of arbitration but didn't settle on a one-year deal until just hours before a hearing was scheduled, left him red-faced.
"It was humiliating. There's no reason a guy like me should go through that," Ortiz told USA Today on Wednesday afternoon in a Spanish-language interview. "All I was looking for was two years, at the same salary ($12.5 million).
"They ended up giving me $3 million more than that (it was actually $2.025 million), and look at my numbers this year. Tell me if they wouldn't have been better off.
"And yet they don't hesitate to sign other guys. It was embarrassing."
Ortiz, who could have entered the open market after last season but instead accepted the team's offer of arbitration, insinuated that if the team takes a similar approach to his free agency at the end of this season, he might have to look elsewhere.
"If you go crazy and give contracts to whoever comes along despite not knowing how they're going to do, then you don't give me my due consideration, even though I do my thing every year, (expletive) that," Ortiz said. "I'm going to be open to anything. My mentality is not going to be, 'I like it here.' It's going to be, 'Bring it to the table, and we'll see what happens.'"
Over the last two offseasons, the Red Sox have given big contracts to Adrian Gonzalez (seven years, $154 million), Carl Crawford (seven years, $142 million), Josh Beckett (four years, $68 million) and Clay Buchholz (four years, $29.9 million).
Ortiz, who has been a staple in the Red Sox lineup since 2003 and became just the sixth player to hit his 400th homer in a Boston uniform, leads the team in virtually every offensive category. His 22 homers put him on pace for his first 40-plus homer season since 2006, when he set the club record with 54 long balls, and his .997 OPS ranks second in the American League behind only Josh Hamilton.
This isn't the first time this season Ortiz has expressed displeasure with his one-year contract. He spoke with ESPNBoston.com in late June about his frustration with his deal as well as the media scrutiny on the team.
"This is my last year trying to prove people wrong," Ortiz said. "I'm just tired of dealing with drama here. This is baseball, man. It seems like everything that goes on around here affects the whole (Red Sox) Nation. This is baseball, and you're supposed to have fun. We're performing out there at the highest level, and every day it's something new, more (s---)."
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington did not shed any light on how the Sox would handle Ortiz's contract after the season, but he told USA Today in an email that the team did not plan on starting talks on a new deal with Ortiz during the season.
"We have enormous respect for David, and one of our offseason priorities was keeping him with the Red Sox," Cherington wrote to USA Today. "We talked about a number of ways to do that, but ultimately David's acceptance of arbitration focused our efforts on a one-year deal. We were glad to reach a settlement with David prior to a hearing.
"David is having a terrific season and has been a leader on and off the field for us. We remain hopeful that David will finish his career with the Red Sox."