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Red Sox, David Ortiz avoid arbitration with $14.575 million deal

02.13.12 at 10:55 am ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz may be the best designated hitter in baseball history. In 2012, he will be paid accordingly.

According to an industry source, the Red Sox and Ortiz reached an agreement just a few hours before a scheduled salary arbitration hearing on a non-guaranteed, one-year, $14.575 million deal. The agreement represents the midpoint between what Ortiz requested ($16.5 million) and the Sox offered ($12.65 million) for the 2012 season.

Ortiz made $12.5 million in 2011, a season in which he hit .309 with a .398 OBP, .554 slugging mark, .953 OPS, 29 homers and 96 RBI. He was named to the American League All-Star team and was named the winner of the Silver Slugger Award as the top DH in baseball in 2011, in the process garnering bonuses that pushed his earnings for 2011 up to $12.65 million.

The contract is the largest, in terms of average annual value, ever conferred upon a designated hitter, surpassing the $14.25 million AAV being earned by Travis Hafner from 2009-12 and the four-year, $56 million deal ($14 million AAV) to which the White Sox signed Adam Dunn last offseason.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and Ortiz’s agent, Fernando Cuza, met in the Vinoy Hotel (where the arbitration hearing was scheduled to take place at 2 p.m.) at approximately 10 a.m., working together quickly to reach the agreement. With the deal, the Sox have now gone 10 years without an arbitration hearing; the team now has resolved all nine of its cases with arbitration-eligible players for 2012.

Ortiz, 36, reached free agency this offseason for the first time since signing with the Red Sox in 2003. However, he elected to accept the Sox’ offer of salary arbitration in December, thus bringing him back under team contractual control for the 2012 season, his 10th in Boston.

News of the agreement was first reported by Buster Olney of ESPN (via twitter).

Read More: David Ortiz, salary arbitration,
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