And with a $3 million player option that he will almost certainly exercise, Varitek will be back. But in what role?
Josh Beckett made it clear on Monday that he would like to see Jason Varitek back in a Red Sox uniform in 2010.
“He’s definitely one of those guys I’d love to see back, even if the transition starts like it started at the end of the year,” Beckett said. “I think there’s a lot of things that a lot of people can learn from him. And him being around, it’s never a bad thing. He’s so great with young guys and he knows to run a clubhouse and that’s why he wears that ‘C’ on his chest.”
That “transition” Beckett is talking about, however, involved Varitek not catching too terribly much down the stretch, and not catching terribly well when he did catch. We won’t even talk about the hitting, for which no amount of leadership or respect from teammates and fans can cover.
With Victor Martinez around at a relatively cheap $7 million and Varitek costing $3 million, I suppose the Red Sox could say that the catching position is sorted out between the two of them at a relatively reasonable price and move on with the offseason. But that ignores the fact that Martinez will likely see a lot of time at first base and DH, and that Varitek simply can’t catch anymore.
The Red Sox, more than anyone, are a team that has a use for a solid defense-first backup catcher, and they simply won’t have room for one — or will have to sacrifice elsewhere to make room — due to the presence of Varitek. Your mileage may vary when it comes to the value of a team being loyal to its players, but there’s no escaping the fact that such loyalty comes at a price.