April 24 (UPI) — Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz asked the franchise to trade him during the 2003 season, before he won his first World Series in 2004.
Former Red Sox general manager — and current Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations — Theo Epstein revealed the nugget during an interview on MLB.com’s Executive Access podcast.
“David Ortiz hit all of two home runs in the first [two months] of the 2003 season and in mid-May had his agent come and ask me for a trade to somewhere he could play more regularly,” Epstein said on the podcast.
“Fernando Cuza came to talk to me and I told Cuza at the time that David was someone we wanted to get everyday at-bats, but we just needed to pare down the roster a little bit. We ended up trading [Shea] Hillenbrand instead of David Ortiz, so I guess that was a good decision in hindsight. David got regular playing time and ended up hitting close to 30 homers in the second half of the season and was off and running as ‘Big Papi.’”
The Red Sox traded Hillenbrand to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Byung-Hyun Kim in May of 2003.
“Big Papi” hit .288 during the 2003 season, with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. He finished fifth in the American League MVP race. The next season, he hit .301, with 41 bombs and 139 RBIs, while making his first All-Star team.
He was also named the 2004 ALCS MVP after mashing three homers and hitting .387 in Boston’s historical comeback against the New York Yankees. Boston trailed 3-0 in the series, before winning four consecutive games to punch a ticket into the World Series.
Ortiz hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 4 in the ALCS, sparking the Red Sox’s rally. He also hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 14th inning in Game 5 and a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 7.
The Red Sox’s dominant designated hitter led Major League Baseball with 148 RBIs in 2005 and led the American League with 54 home runs and 137 RBIs in 2006. Ortiz hit .290, with 452 home runs, 1,429 RBIs and a .569 slugging percentage from 2004 through 2016. He was also named an All-Star 10 times and won three World Series rings with the Red Sox during that stretch. He was the MVP of the 2013 World Series, when the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ortiz hit .688, with two home runs and six RBIs in six games. He had a 1.188 slugging percentage and 1.948 OPS during that stretch.