As we all sadly know, David Ortiz's final moments are winding down in Boston. The 40 year old slugger is calling it quits after this season, even though he may be leading the MVP race. Over the course of the remaining season, I will be looking back at some of Big Papi's greatest moments in a Red Sox uniform. On the first #PapiMoment's, we look back to two dates that changed two franchises for life.
The Twins made it clear all season long they would be cutting ties with the 26 year old slugger named David Ortiz. And for that reason, they were not able to trade him. So on December 16, 2002, the Twins released Ortiz rather than offering him a raise via salary arbitration.
After underachieving in Minnesota, the Twins released Ortiz in 2002
Photo Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com
Ortiz hit .272/.339/.500 with 20 homers in 125 games in 2002. An impressive line for a 26 year old. Stats that should earn a salary arbitration raise or a long line of suitors in free agency. But the line was short, as only a few teams reached out and offered a major league invite. It was tough for David who still couldn't believe he was released.
“I remember sitting with him and his dad in the Santo Domingo Sheraton,” said Cuza, Ortiz's agent. “He looked at me like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me.’ I told him, ‘You know what? Something will happen in the next few days.’ ”
Then something did happen. As the Red Sox were trying to revamp the back half of their roster with affordable players with good power, they reached out to Ortiz. Red Sox pitcher, Pedro Martinez, pushed hard for the Red Sox to sign Ortiz. He called new GM, Theo Epstein, twice during free agency to share his thoughts about how Ortiz would fit on this team. To this day Ortiz believes Martinez is why he ended up up the Red Sox.
“Pedro came through right away. There was no [b.s.],” Ortiz said. “Pedro called, two days later I was with the Red Sox. Simple.”
So after several workouts to see if he could play first base, the Red Sox signed Ortiz on January 22, 2003. Even though the team had several players at his position, like newly acquired Jeremy Giambi, they saw something in Ortiz.
That one year, $1.25 million dollar contract they gave Ortiz is arguably the biggest move in Red Six history. And at the time it was barely noticed around Boston. As the 3x World Series Champion's career comes to an end, I hope you join me in recalling some of his best moments with the Red Sox.
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