The Red Sox don’t need Jason Varitek. They have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach. Meanwhile, Varitek has had no known interest from any other team. Things look grim for his future.
But the Red Sox are at least offering him a temporary lifeline: Jon Heyman reports that they’ve offered a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Though there is some debate here: Ian Browne hears differently: that there has been no invite yet and the team is waiting to see what Varitek wants to do.
The smart money is that — if there is an invite now or soon — it’s out of courtesy, so that Varitek has someplace to report and to work out in February, giving him a few extra weeks to figure out what he’s doing or to latch on with another team. But given his .221/.300/.423 line in 2011 — and his almost complete lack of defensive value as a catcher anymore — it’s not like there are many teams who would be willing to sign him.
Perhaps the Sox could use however long he has in spring training to persuade Varitek to pull a Posada and bow out gracefully and/or accept a coaching or front office position with the team.
UPDATE: According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the club has not made a formal offer to Varitek.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.