As a formality, Red Sox exercise Papi's option

As a formality, Red Sox exercise Papi's option

BOSTON -- The Red Sox exercised David Ortiz's $17.2 million option for 2017 on Thursday, but the star slugger is still expected to retire.

So why exercise the option? Because by doing so, the Red Sox prevent Ortiz from becoming a free agent if he stunningly reverses course and decides to keep playing.

In a release, however, the Red Sox announced the transaction with Ortiz as a formality, and noted that he is still expected to retire this offseason.

Ortiz stated numerous times late in the season and again when Boston was eliminated by Cleveland in the American League Division Series that he had no change of heart.

Ortiz is coming off arguably the greatest final season in history. He led the Major Leagues with a 1.021 OPS at the age of 40 and clubbed 38 homers while notching 121 RBIs.

The Red Sox will retire his No. 34 at Fenway Park prior to a game next season.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.