The legend has returned. Following his retirement at the end of the 2016 season, Boston Red Sox fans couldn’t help but fantasize, without much real hope, that David Ortiz would one day rejoin the organization that had been his home since 2003. On Wednesday, they got their wish, though perhaps not exactly in the way they wanted.
Red Sox Announce David Ortiz’s New Role
During an appearance at an event to announce his partnership with Eastern Bank yesterday, Ortiz let slip that he and the Red Sox had agreed upon his future with the club; today, the team announced the details. Ortiz will be rejoining the team he essentially willed to three World Series titles on an essentially unlimited deal. It should ensure he remains with the organization in some capacity for the rest of his life. This kind of deal is unprecedented in Red Sox history; never has the organization given any player a contract as long as this.
Ortiz will take on a primarily adivsory and promotional role. He will mentor current players, many of whom have already studied under him for years, help in recruitment efforts, and work for Fenway Sports Management on the business development side.
This may be one of the smartest decisions the Red Sox have made in recent memory. Not only is it a fantastic PR move, as it brings one of the most popular players of the last two decades back into the fold long-term, but it also puts Ortiz in a position to be of tremendous use to the organization.
As a mentor, Ortiz’s adivce will help current players on two fronts. Big Papi enjoyed unheardof success in the later years of his career. His final season, at age 40, should have seen him fall off a cliff statisitically, as the vast majority of players do. Instead, he posted 38 home runs, 127 RBI, a .315 batting average, and an astronomical 1.021 OPS. Ortiz will help teach the current generation of players how to not only be prepared for each game and each season, but how to adjust as they progress through their careers.
As an ambassador, both for Fenway Sports Management and as a recruiter, there is no one better suited than David Ortiz. The slugger embraced and embodied his team and city as few, if any players have ever done. In return, the city embraced him right back. Who better to convince new players of the joys and benefits of playing for the Red Sox? What better face for a brand could there be?
Though millions of fans might have hoped to once again see Ortiz pick up a bat in the postseason, this new deal is the right thing for both Ortiz and the Red Sox. Though the two would have been irreversibly linked forever either way, making that connection official just has a good feeling to it. Players as special as David Ortiz should always be a part of baseball. Now, he will be.