This time, David Ortiz had a market. This time, the Red Sox didn't have arbitration to extend the process.

So this time, the two sides didn't mess around.

When the offseason began, re-signing Ortiz seemed like a no-brainer, and last night the Red Sox made it exactly that by reaching terms with the slugging designated hitter and franchise icon on a two-year deal worth $26 million, with incentives that could take it up to $30 million, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

And with that, all parties can breathe a sigh of relief.

Ortiz, who took in the Celtics' home opener at the Garden last night, couldn't confirm the deal — "(My agent) hasn't called me so I don't know where they are at right now, but they were getting close," he said — but was pleased about getting two years.

"You all know that I want to be back," he said. "I've been here for a while and I mean, it don't get any better."

Ortiz didn't want to leave, and the Red Sox didn't want to lose him, and after years of taking their hardest lines against him, the Sox finally relented and paid him more than they probably wanted, but not by so much that it will impact their budget in any appreciable way.

What the Sox didn't want to do was let Ortiz test free agency and introduce another variable to the equation. Unlike last year, when the arrivals of Albert Pujols to the Angels and Prince Fielder to the Tigers all but eliminated Ortiz' market, this year he projected to have no shortage of suitors.

The Rangers, who stand to lose Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli in free agency, were on record that they planned to make a big push for Ortiz, who would have solidified the middle of their lineup alongside Adrian Beltre.