Source: David Ortiz returning to Boston

DALLAS -- Designated hitter David Ortiz plans to accept the offer of salary arbitration that the Red Sox extended to him, meaning that he will return to Boston for the 2012 season, a source told ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com on Tuesday.

Wednesday at midnight is the deadline for players to accept arbitration. Ortiz, who earned $12.5 million in 2011 and could get around $15 million in arbitration, was seeking a pay raise, a league source told ESPNBoston.com earlier Tuesday. A two-year, $25 million deal would also have kept him in Boston, according to the source, but prior to offering arbitration, the Red Sox put a two-year, $18 million deal on the table.

The Sox almost certainly would prefer that Ortiz take the two-year deal, since the average annual value of $9 million would be a smaller hit against their payroll for luxury-tax purposes. The sides also still could tweak their multiyear offers, but either way, Ortiz doesn't figure to be going anywhere.

General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday the sides are still talking, and that the Red Sox "remain hopeful" Ortiz will be back.

"That's been our position all along," Cherington said. "We haven't agreed to anything yet.

"If there's a way to make it work, we'd like to have him on the team moving forward and potentially have him finish his career with the Red Sox. But we haven't reached an agreement on a contract.

"We've had good dialogue, and I think there's a good understanding of our respective positions and a lot of mutual respect. If we don't reach anything by tomorrow, we'll see what his decision is. If we don't and he accepts, then we'll be happy with that outcome."

On Friday, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made a trip to the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz was hosting a charity golf tournament. Ortiz was apparently flattered and impressed by the visit.

"That speaks to me," Ortiz told The Boston Globe on Friday about meeting with Valentine, tapping his heart with his fist. "I'm impressed. That's good stuff."

Ortiz, 36, had a rebound year in 2011, batting .309 with 29 homers and 96 RBIs, and has been the most visible face of the Red Sox for the last decade. In nine seasons with Boston, he is batting .289 with 320 homers and 1,028 RBIs.

A seven-time All-Star, Ortiz has split 15 MLB seasons between Minnesota and Boston, batting .283 with 378 homers and 1,276 RBIs.

Enrique Rojas covers Major League Baseball for ESPNdeportesLosAngeles.com. ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald contributed to this report.