David Ortiz isn't signed yet, and could very well be a free agent, but the Sox might close out the deal just in time
On Thursday, WEEI's Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox and David Ortiz, while close on their terms, were far enough apart that Ortiz very well might enter the free agent market that opens up Friday at midnight. This was a bit unexpected, but maybe it shouldn't have been. Ortiz and the Red Sox have been close each of the last few years, but it's taken time to figure out, since Ortiz usually wanted something Boston wasn't prepared to offer. Now that Boston can offer it, Ortiz might be making up for past losses. It's his right, of course, but it's not so great for the blood pressure of Sox fans.
Then, Ken Rosenthal reported (and Bradford confirmed) that the Rangers had a genuine interest in Ortiz that they would pursue were he to become a free agent. While Boston can offer Ortiz a qualifying offer by 5 pm eastern on Friday, that isn't guaranteed to be enough to keep the Rangers from Ortiz. They would lose a first-round pick, yes, but they would get one back when Josh Hamilton departs. And if Ortiz signs, then Hamilton is gone, since Ortiz's presence would be, in essence, to replace Hamilton's production.
It's equally unsurprising, given this new challenger approaching, that Boston would step up their efforts to try to work something out with Ortiz before their exclusive negotiating window ends. Nick Cafardo is reporting now that this very thing is happening:
Red Sox and Ortiz starting to close the large gap they had just 24 hours ago. News of Texas interest, reported by Ken Rosenthal, is real.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 2, 2012
This most likely means Ortiz was willing to move closer to the $25 million portion of his $25-30 million demands, and Boston likely increased their monetary offer from where it was as well. It's obviously not done yet, but the two sides have more than another 12 hours as of this writing before Ortiz is officially a free agent.
We'll have more on Ortiz and the Red Sox as the negotiations go on. (But hopefully, not for much longer.)