Tim Wakefield

Jason Varitek

Jason Varitek joins Tim Wakefield in calling it a career


Among active teammates, only the Yankees’ trio of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada had been together longer than Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. Now Varitek has joined Posada, the catcher he was so often compared to as part of the New York-Boston rivalry, and Wakefield in retirement.

Had Varitek played anywhere other than Boston or New York, he would have spent his career as an underrated player, a first-rate catcher without the eye-popping numbers that would have warranted a lot of attention. He never hit .300 or drove in 100 runs. He didn’t even become a regular until age 27.

In Boston, though, Varitek was “The Captain,” complete with the “C” on his chest. The guy who got into the fight with Alex Rodriguez. A key component on two World Series championship teams.

That reputation shouldn’t get Varitek anywhere near the Hall of Fame, but it’s worth remembering just how good he was at his peak. From 2003-05, he hit .283/.369/.494 with 65 homers and 228 RBIs. Among catchers, only Javy Lopez and Posada (with the same .863 OPS) were better offensively during that span, and Varitek had the best glove of that trio.

Alas, Varitek fell off pretty quickly from there, though it’s worth noting that he played quite a bit better as a backup the last two seasons than he did as a regular in 2008-09. Even at 40, he still projected as one of the game’s better offensive backups. Unfortunately, his arm has deteriorated to the point at which he just can’t stop anyone on the basepaths. That’s why there was no demand for his services over the winter.

Varitek finishes his career at .256/.341/.435 with 193 homers and 757 RBI. Among guys who played at least 80 percent of their games at catcher, Varitek ranks 16th in homers, 21st in RBI and 23rd in OPS (Posada, in comparison, ranks eighth, 10th and seventh in those categories).

Varitek also hit .237/.292/.452 with 11 homers and 33 RB in 63 postseason games. Looking at those who played exclusviely for the Red Sox, only Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Jim Rice had longer careers.

Jason Varitek is leaning toward retirement

varitek ap wide

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.

Will Jason Varitek follow Tim Wakefield into retirement?

Jason Varitek Tim Wakefield Getty

Boston offered minor-league contracts and spring training invitations to both Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. Wakefield opted against battling for a roster spot at age 45, announcing his retirement today, but the 40-year-old Varitek is apparently still trying to make up his mind.

Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that the catcher has “not made any decisions yet” about his plans for 2012.

By signing Kelly Shoppach to back up Jarrod Saltamacchia the Red Sox are seemingly set at catcher and Varitek wasn’t linked to many other teams during the offseason. It’s possible he could draw interest from teams if a starting catcher goes down with a spring training injury, but Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Kendall are also available if veteran-ness is the only qualification needed.

Varitek hit .221 with a .300 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage in 250 plate appearances last season, which is actually above-average production for a catcher, but it’s tough to live with his defense at this point. He threw out a measly 14 percent of steal attempts last season.