The Red Sox offered Jason Varitek a minor league deal. Maybe.

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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.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.