David Ortiz is going to finish his career with the Red Sox, but just when that will happen is the question. Thanks to his strong push over the last two months, the answer is unlikely to be 2015, and that becomes even more apparent when you realize that, in six more plate appearances, Ortiz is not only going to guarantee his 2016 extension, but increase it's value. At 425 plate appearances, the value of Ortiz's 2016 option climbs from $10 million to $11 million, while also becoming guaranteed, so long as he passes a physical this offseason.
Ortiz has been Boston's best hitter this year, and while that isn't exactly a hurdle anyone should brag about clearing, at least Big Papi has looked, well, a lot more Big Papi-like of late. While he hit just .219/.297/.372 over the season's first two-plus months, Ortiz has recovered as if nothing was ever wrong and batted .266/.371/.574 with 15 home runs since -- those 15 dingers are good for the fifth-most in the league in that stretch, behind only J.D. Martinez, Chris Davis, Carlos Gonzalez, and some Mike Trout guy.
This is all happening, once again, with Ortiz posting a very low batting average on balls in play. He's avoiding strikeouts since his line began to recover, whiffing under 15 percent of the time, and he's also avoided double plays with just two in his last 47 games, but his BABIP is .240 and the reason his average still isn't high. Maybe there will be some recovery in the future, but given 2014's BABIP was .256, maybe this is just the kind of hitter the 39-year-old Ortiz is nowadays.
Guaranteeing the option is just the first step: it can increase in value to $16 million -- or the value of the qualifying offer if that's higher -- based on additional plate appearances. At 475 plate appearances, Ortiz would make $12 million in 2016. At 500, $13 million, $14 million for 525, and $15 million for 575. He would need 600 plate appearances for the $16 million, which is manageable so long as he plays in about 143 games or so -- he's currently participated in 99 of Boston's 109 contests.
It should be noted that the increased value is not guaranteed, just because Ortiz hit the necessary thresholds: if he fails to pass the offseason physical, the contract's value will be the midpoint of the baseline $10 million and whatever threshold he's reached. The option would still be guaranteed in general, though, so the Sox can't back out on it. Not that they would: Ortiz is still highly productive, and even if he were set to miss 2016 for some reason, they still have a $10 million baseline option on him for 2017 as well.
All salary data courtesy Cot's Contracts