The Red Sox have agreed to terms with designated hitter David Ortiz on a two-year deal worth $26 million that could allow a breakout star of the franchise's cathartic 2004 World Series victory to retire in a Boston uniform.
A baseball official with knowledge of the negotiations said Friday night that the sides reached agreement on a deal that, with incentive bonuses, could bring Ortiz as much as $30 million in the 2013 and '14 seasons. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been signed.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said the team had nothing to announce. Ortiz' agent, Fern Cuza, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Speaking at the Celtics' home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, Ortiz said, "We haven't finished it up yet."
"It's coming," he said as he walked back to his courtside seat at the TD Garden "It's coming."
But fans who had heard about the deal were already shouting their congratulations to the player beloved in Boston as "Big Papi." The crowd cheered when he was shown on the scoreboard at the end of the third quarter, and he acknowledged the support by raising his left arm straight up.
One of the most popular players in Red Sox history, Ortiz now has a chance to finish his career in the city where it was rejuvenated after he was waived by the Minnesota Twins following the 2003 season. Ortiz signed with the Red Sox and became an immediate star, batting .288 with 31 homers and 101 in his first season.
But it was in 2004 that Ortiz provided some of the signature moments in Red Sox history.
After a season in which he had a .301 average, and career highs of 41 homers and 139 RBIs, Ortiz batted .545 in the first-round series against Anaheim. With the Red Sox facing elimination in Game 4 of the AL championship series against the New York Yankees, Ortiz hit a game-ending homer in the 12th inning and then delivered another game-winning hit in Game 5 as Boston rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win in seven games.
Ortiz had four hits — two for extra bases — in 13 at-bats and four walks against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, which the Red Sox won in four games to end an 86-year title drought. In the 2007 postseason, when Boston won it all for a second time, Ortiz batted .370 with 14 walks in 14 games for an on-base percentage of .508.
An eight-time All-Star, Ortiz hit a team-record 54 homers in 2006 and was batting .318 with 23 homers and 60 RBIs this season before injuring his right Achilles tendon and playing in just one game after July 16.
Ortiz, who will turn 37 this month, is a career .285 hitter with 401 homers and 1,386 RBIs. His 343 homers in a Red Sox uniform is fifth on Boston's career list and his 1,088 RBIs is sixth in franchise history.
Ortiz was a free agent and able to discuss money with all teams at midnight. The Red Sox made him a $13.3 million qualifying offer, but the sides continued negotiating and reached an agreement a few hours later.
Boston did not make qualifying offers Friday to right-handers Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Vicente Padilla; first baseman James Loney; and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Cody Ross.
AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman contributed to this report.