Ortiz, Abreu And Forks In The Road
At 26, Red Sox David Ortiz was released after posting an OPS+ 20% higher than the league average. Last week, Jose Dariel Abreu, also 26, signed the richest contract for any Cuban player…ever.
If one ever needed an example of perception versus reality, this is it. Both players were considered bat first options at the same age. Ortiz belted 20 home runs at the Major League level in 466 plate appearances. Abreu slugged 19 in Cuba this year, albeit in just 389 plate appearances. Yet, one was released for a Rule 5 shortstop named Jose Morban while the other received a contract for 68-million.
What were the Minnesota Twins thinking? In their defense, Ortiz’ exit opened the door for Justin Morneau to contribute at the Major League level. Additionally, they won the division before losing in the ALCS with a young core of players the same year. The Twins were positioned to win for years to come and must have believed an upgrade over Ortiz was needed to take the next step.
Unfortunately for the Twins, the 2003 version of David Ortiz was the upgrade they were looking for.
373 home runs later, Ortiz is now known as Big Papi and is a legend in Boston. Also considered one of the best hitters in World Series history, one has to wonder just how much his prolific bat changed the course of history for both the Minnesota and Boston franchises. Maybe somebody should write a book or something?
Ortiz signed with the Red Sox for 1.25 million and earned just shy of 44-million from 2003-2008. I won’t adjust every year for inflation, but the 1.25 Ortiz earned is equivalent to about 1.6 today (27% increase). Based on this, it’s safe to say those six years would total 55-60 million from 2014-2019. In essence, the White Sox are paying Abreu to be Ortiz – The Big Papi version.
Ortiz averaged 4.5 WAR per season from 2003-2008 by triple slashing .297/.398/.598. To exceed his salary, Abreu has to lift a heavy offensive load.
I wrote about Abreu last week.. kind of. And while I’m not sure of the player he’ll become given limited viewings, I do know the White Sox are paying him as a 2-3 win contributor from day one.
Overall, it’s a modest risk for the White Sox, but still a significant financial investment. For this deal to be a coup for the White Sox, the Ortiz blueprint suggests Abreu will have to be one of the game’s best hitters from day one.
4 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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