David Ortiz's new one-year extension is more complex than that modest figure suggests. It has an option for 2016 that can vest and, failing that, becomes a club option. It has another team option for 2017 that could turn this into a three-year extension. The total value of the contract could be $48 million instead of just the $16 million guaranteed to Ortiz for 2015, but it will take productivity, health, and possibly a little luck to get to that lucrative amount.
WEEI's Alex Speier reported the full breakdown for Ortiz's incentives. For his 2016 option to vest, Ortiz will need at least 425 plate appearances in 2015. That will lock him in for 2016 at a base salary of $11 million, with another $5 million he can earn through further plate appearance incentives. Every 50 plate appearances after the vesting of the option, Ortiz can earn another $1 million: the incentives cut out at 600 plate appearances and $16 million.
Ortiz had exactly 600 plate appearances in 2013 after missing the first few weeks of the season recovering from 2012's Achilles injury. He appeared in 137 games, and something else in that area going forward seems doable. Remember, he is unlikely to play every day when the Red Sox have continual interleague games, as only one of Mike Napoli or Ortiz can be in the lineup, and he'll be 39 years old in 2015 while trying to unlock this option and the incentives beyond it: he might not have an easy full season in him at some point. Knowing how Ortiz tries to keep in shape, however, he'll likely give it his best try to be on the field as much as the schedule permits.
For 2017, there is no vesting option, but instead it's only a club option. That pays a base salary of $10 million, and uses the same plate appearance incentives scale: at 425 plate appearances, the deal is bumped up to $11 million, and every 50 plate appearances thereafter, up to 600, pays out an additional $1 million.
It's difficult to predict how much Ortiz will play, but if he's hitting as he's almost always done, the Red Sox will give him every opportunity to achieve maximum value on this deal. That's a setup that works out for both sides.