Red Sox offer arbitration to Papi, Wheeler

Red Sox offer arbitration to Papi, Wheeler

BOSTON -- Though the Red Sox are very much hoping to keep David Ortiz in a Boston uniform, they've protected themselves in the event that the big slugger signs somewhere else.

Boston offered salary arbitration to Ortiz and relief pitcher Dan Wheeler in advance of Wednesday's midnight deadline, putting itself in position to get draft compensation if either of those players leave town.

Ortiz is a Type A free agent, meaning the Red Sox would likely get a first-round selection from whichever team signed him. Boston would also be awarded a sandwich-round pick.

Wheeler is a Type B free agent, so the Red Sox would get a sandwich pick if he goes somewhere else.

Ortiz and Wheeler have until Dec. 7 to accept Boston's offer of arbitration.

Ortiz is coming off a highly-productive 2011 season, in which he hit .309 with 29 home runs and 96 RBIs in 146 games. He finished fourth in the American League in slugging percentage (.554), on-base percentage (.398) and OPS (.953).

A Rhode Island native, Wheeler didn't make much of an impact in his first season with the Sox, going 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 47 games. The Red Sox held a club option on Wheeler that they declined shortly after the season ended.

Boston did not offer arbitration to its two longest-tenured players -- knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and catcher Jason Varitek. However, the Red Sox are still free to negotiate a contract with those players. The same goes for Ortiz and Wheeler.

Varitek is a Type B free agent, so the Red Sox will not get compensation if he signs somewhere else.

Because ace closer Jonathan Papelbon, a Type A free agent, signed with the Phillies before the Red Sox had a chance to offer him arbitration, they will get compensation.

The Sox also declined arbitration offers to lefties Erik Bedard and Trever Miller, and outfielders J.D. Drew and Conor Jackson.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.