David Ortiz has arguably been one of the best hitters in baseball in the early portion of the season, leading the MLB in slugging percentage (.674) and OPS (1.069). That is making his decision to retire after this season hard to grasp.

For Ortiz, however, the decision goes beyond his ability to produce at the plate, as he told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

I’m good with the decision that I’m making because I’ve been thinking about it for a while. It’s been a couple years. Because your body, man. Your body tells you. My body, man. My body’s pretty beat up. Remember, if you look at guys my size, they don’t last. I noticed that seven or eight years ago. That’s why I needed to start doing things right. I lost 25 pounds. I started eating better, do things better. But let me tell you: It’s not easy, man.

As Ortiz, 40, told Passan, he has to visit with the trainer every day, and the travel of an MLB season is wearing on him. Sometimes it hurts just to walk. And he certainly hears the whispers that his prolonged success is due to PED use, especially after he failed a PED test in 2003.

Ortiz, however, attributes that success to his matured mental approach at the plate:

All people talk about is age, age, age, age. Bro, listen. I’m a better hitter now than what I was [expletive] 10 years ago. You know why? Because now I set pitchers up. My mind doesn’t get any confusion. I used to get confused. I’m gonna sit on a slider. Fastball. Boom! Oh, [expletive]. Why’d I take that fastball? My whole program I used to change because of that pitch. Now, I decide I’m gonna sit on a slider. Fastball. I don’t care. Fastball. I don’t care. Breaking ball. I don’t care. Changeup. I don’t care. Slider. Here it is.

That approach has Ortiz hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI and 20 runs scored this year. If voters were selecting an AL MVP today, Ortiz would surely be in the running, especially after Boston’s 24-15 start to the season.

It’s always possible that Ortiz could change his mind, of course. Perhaps his hot start will convince him that he has another year or two left in the tank. Perhaps the Red Sox‘s strong core of Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, along with ace David Price and a strong bullpen, will convince him that he can win another title.

And the Red Sox do have team options over the next two years for Ortiz that could pay him as much as $16 million a year. But as the slugger hinted, it would probably take more than that to keep him in Boston for another season or two.

“Like I said, I’m good with the decision that I made right now,” Ortiz said when discussing the possibility of a team offering him a $25 million-per-year contract. “But would you leave $25 million on the table? I don’t want nobody to offer me that.”

Even that might not be enough to bring Ortiz back, of course. If the Red Sox win a title this season and Ortiz continues to play well and has the chance to retire on the highest of highs, that will be an appealing way to leave baseball. He certainly doesn’t have anything left to prove.

But if he continues to swing the bat like he has to this point, the Red Sox—or another MLB team—may be inclined to offer him that $25 million contract. And that might be enough for the 40-year-old to endure the physical demands for at least one more year.


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