It looks like Bobby Valentine's first act as manager of the Boston Red Sox is to recruit free agent designated hitter David Ortiz.
According to multiple reports, Valentine is headed to the Dominican Republic to meet with Ortiz, who is hosting a charity golf tournament there over the weekend. The 36-year-old Ortiz has repeatedly expressed a desire to remain in Boston and the Red Sox last week offered him arbitration.
Ortiz told the Boston Herald and Boston Globe in the Dominican Republic that he has not yet decided whether to accept the offer of arbitration, which essentially translates to a one-year contract for a higher salary than the $12.5 million he made last season. Ortiz, who has been seeking a multi-year deal, has until Dec. 7 to decide.
"It's something that I've got to sit down and talk to my agent about," Ortiz told the Herald. "We haven't made a decision yet. But it's going to come down to something this week."
Cherington and Ortiz's agent, Fern Cuza, are scheduled to meet at baseball's winter meetings early next week in Dallas.
"We offered him arbitration and that's significant because he has a decision to make on that on Wednesday if we don't reach an agreement before then," Cherington said Thursday. "We had continued good dialogue."
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, clubs retain the right to negotiate and/or enter into a contract agreement with any of their free agents, regardless of whether arbitration was offered. There are no deadlines for such negotiations or agreements.
If Ortiz, a Type A free agent, were to sign a deal elsewhere, the Red Sox would receive two draft picks as compensation. That scenario could give other teams pause about signing the designated hitter and having to yield a first-round pick.
Ortiz hit .309 with 29 homers and 96 RBIs in 2011, his ninth season with the Red Sox.