Pending Options: First Basemen/Designated Hitters

Part two in an ongoing series on players with 2011 options.

David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Option: $12.5M Buyout: None

Reports of David Ortiz’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. After a poor 2009 – largely a product of a .238 BABIP – Ortiz responded in a big way in 2010. Big Papi slugged 32 home runs, breaking the 30 homer barrier for the first time since 2007, and posted a 137 wRC+ in 606 plate appearances. Even at the DH position, that’s worth a solid 3.3 WAR. After his dismal 2009, in which he only posted 0.8 WAR, it may have looked like the Red Sox would do all they could to make sure Ortiz wasn’t around by 2011. At this point, though, with Ortiz coming off the strong 2010 and projected as a 2.5 WAR player by CHONE, the Red Sox will likely look to bring the slugger back. If we see any sort of salary inflation, Ortiz’s deal will settle right around market value and possibly a touch below, which a team like the Red Sox can certainly handle.

Nick Johnson, New York Yankees
Option: $5.5M Buyout: $0.25M

Nick Johnson was supposed to shore up the Yankees DH position this year, assuming he could avoid injuries. Unfortunately for New York, a Nick Johnson injury is as certain as death and taxes. In 98 plate appearances this year, Johnson had mixed results; he reached base at a .388 clip but his contact rates and BABIP were way down. Of course, we can’t glean a whole lot from those plate appearances, and when Johnson plays we can probably still expect the high-OBP, medium power type player that we’ve seen this whole millennium. But if that player can’t stay on the field, he’s not worth much to anybody, and for that reason, we can probably expect the Yankees to decline their half of the mutual option. Five and a half million isn’t much for the Yankees, but it’s not nothing, and even the Yankees do operate on a budget and will look to use that money on upgrades either at the DH position or elsewhere.

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True, and the roster spot Johnson would take with his 5.5MM isn’t nothing, either. Sayonara, nice to know ya.