David Ortiz to Retire after the 2016 Season
By Ian Browne / MLB.com | @IanMBrowne | November 18th, 2015
BOSTON — Red Sox slugger David Ortiz celebrated Wednesday — his 40th birthday — by confirming that he will retire after the 2016 season.
“I thought a lot about it,” Ortiz said in a two-minute, 26-second video on The Players’ Tribune website. “Every single one of us, athletes-wise, we run out of time at some point. Life is based on different chapters and I think I’m ready to experience the next one in my life.”
This isn’t a case of an aging player who has dropped off much from a production standpoint. In fact, the 37 homers and 108 RBIs Ortiz produced in 2015 marked his highest totals in those categories since 2007.
But the iconic left-handed hitter — who in 2004 helped guide the Red Sox to their first World Series championship since 1918, plus two more, in ’07 and ’13 — is ready to enjoy one more year and then walk away from the game he loves.
Considering Ortiz has continued to play at such a high level in the latter stages of his career, it was somewhat surprising that he made the decision already that 2016 will be his last season. Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports.com reported the news first on Tuesday.
Ortiz seemed at peace with the decision while relaying his message.
“I picked this day to announce that after next season, I’m going to be done with my career and playing baseball,” Ortiz said. “I would like people to remember me as a guy that was just part of the family. A guy that was trying to do the best, not only on the field, with everyone around him.”
While Ortiz decided to forego a traditional news conference and relay the information his way, he was typically heartfelt with some of his words.
“Baseball is not just based on putting up numbers. This is our second family. Whoever is around you on a daily basis, this is like your second family, and I always had good thoughts for everyone around me,” Ortiz said. “Baseball, besides God, it just has flipped my whole life over. Not just mine, my whole family. I see how people struggle out there.
“I struggled before and I know how hard it is to make it to the top, you know what I’m saying? It’s something that I thank God every day for. I’m really proud of what I have accomplished through the years. I’m very thankful for having fans like you guys who have supported me throughout my career. I wish I could play another 40 years so I could have you guys behind me, but it doesn’t work that way. After next year, hang this up. So let’s enjoy next season.”
The 2016 season will be Ortiz’s 20th in the Majors, and 14th with the Red Sox. Ortiz will earn $16 million in the coming season. If he had decided to keep playing, the Red Sox held a $10 million club option on him for ’17.
When Ortiz signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Red Sox on Jan. 22, 2003, nobody could have imagined the impact he would have on the franchise. After all, he had just been released by the Minnesota Twins, and to that point, he had been only a platoon player.
But after general manager Theo Epstein traded Shea Hillenbrand in late May 2003, opening up the logjam at corner infield and designated hitter, Ortiz at last became an everyday player. And he almost instantly became one of the most impactful power hitters in the game. Ortiz would also get a moniker “Big Papi” that matched his gregarious persona.