Tim Wakefield just officially announced his retirement and it appears as though his longtime teammate Jason Varitek is finally close to making a decision about his future.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was told by a friend of Varitek as the Wakefield presser that the veteran backstop is leaning toward retirement.
Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald earlier today that his client has “not made any decisions yet” about his plans for this season. Still, with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington saying earlier this evening that he doesn’t anticipate making any additions prior to the start of camp, all signs are pointing in the direction of retirement.
Varitek, who turns 40 in April, batted .221/.300/.423 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI and a .723 OPS over 68 games last season. The three-time All-Star owns a .256/.341/.435 lifetime batting line over major league 15 seasons to go along with 193 career home runs and 757 RBI.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.