I know I’m not breaking new ground by saying this, but it needs to be said: Players just don’t stick around like they used to. Thanks to free agency and the growing financial disparity between different teams, it’s far more common for a star player to move on to greener pastures than to stay and end his career in the city that made him famous. Just take a look at recent Red Sox history:
- Nomar Garciaparra was the face of the franchise for the better part of a decade, joining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to form the “Holy Trinity” of shortstops. He was a Rookie of the Year, a two-time batting champion and a four-time All-Star. At the 2004 trade deadline, he ended up in Chicago as part of a four-team trade. The Sox won the World Series without him.
- Pedro Martinez was one of the best pitchers Sox fans had ever seen, winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards and leading the league in ERA four times in his six years with the team. He signed with the Mets as a free agent right after that ’04 championship.
- Manny Ramirez was one of the best hitters of his generation, a legendary slugger who made an All-Star roster every year of his Boston career and belted his 500th home run with the club. Just months after that historic shot, and less than a year removed from winning his second title with the Sox, he was traded to the Dodgers.
In the span of exactly four years, Red Sox fans lost two Hall of Fame-caliber stars and one beloved franchise icon. Granted, we also enjoyed two world titles in that time, so I’m not exactly complaining. Still, it hurt to see them go.
I bring this up today, of course, because the big news is that David Ortiz has signed a contract extension that will take him through the 2015 season, plus a vesting option for 2016 and a club option for 2017. Now, that’s still not a guarantee of anything – if the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that there are no guarantees – but it definitely looks like Papi will spend the rest of his career in Boston.