FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, asked whether the team has discussed David Ortiz's future beyond this season with him, said that "David knows he's going to be a Red Sox [player] as long as he wants to be a Red Sox [player]."
Ortiz will turn 40 in 267 days. Only 10 position players in Red Sox history have played past their 40th birthday, and only three -- Carl Yastrzemski (446 games), Ted Williams (216) and Bing Miller (109) -- have played in as many as 100 games past that age. Last season, Ortiz casually hinted that this might be his final season then said, "I'll let you know when the time comes," when pressed on the subject.
"There's been no discussion on it recently," Cherington said. "Honestly, we're just happy he's here. He's a huge part of what we're doing on the field. I think, given his stature and personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field too. He's part of the Red Sox legacy, part of the Boston pro sports legacy. He's also a DH who hits in the middle of the lineup. That's what we're focused on. We're happy to keep him there as long as he keeps doing it. There hasn't been any conversation."
The 2015 season represents the last guaranteed year of Ortiz's contract. He is due to be paid $16 million, the most money he has ever been paid in a single season. With 425 plate appearances this season, an easily attainable number assuming no major injury, his contract will vest for the 2016 season. He would make $11 million if he reaches 425 plate appearances, with his salary increasing if he surpasses higher thresholds. He would make $12 million for 475 plate appearances, $13 million for 525, $14 million for 550, $15 million for 575 or a maximum of $16 million if he reaches 600 plate appearances.
Ortiz hit a team-leading 35 home runs last season, tied for fifth in the American League and the most he has hit in a season since hitting 35 in 2007. He was the oldest player to hit at least 35 homers since Barry Bonds hit 45 in 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ortiz has hit at least 20 home runs in 13 consecutive seasons, the previous 12 with Boston and the first with the Minnesota Twins in 2002. He is within 34 home runs of the 500 home run milestone for his career.
As productive as Ortiz continues to be, there would seem to be little urgency to purchase him a gold watch. How do the Sox gauge how long Ortiz wants to play?
"I can't answer that question," Cherington said. "That's a decision he has to make. He certainly looks like a guy who'll keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he's got some personal goals too. [He's] motivated by both of those things. [Retirement] hasn't been a topic this winter or spring. I'm sure at some point it will be a topic for him. Right now, he's here, getting ready for the season."
Ortiz, who briefly chatted with reporters at his locker Tuesday, is scheduled to have a formal media session Wednesday. Undoubtedly he will be asked about his future plans.