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The Captain is back on Board

ProBaseball-fans.com Boston Red Sox Correspondent Elizabeth Dreeson brings us her latest update on Red Sox Nation.


After coming off a career worst offensive year, Jason Varitek’s future with the Red Sox was uncertain. He has been with the Red Sox since 1997, their starting catcher since 1999 and their captain since 2005. After the 2004 season he was re-signed on Christmas Eve, but Red Sox fans were not as lucky this past Christmas. After game seven of the 2008 American League Championship Series, Varitek was asked whether or not he would be returning in 2009. Tears welled up in his eyes, and as he choked them back, he said, “I don’t want to talk about that right now”. Varitek was offered arbitration at the end of December and when he did not accept, it made matters worse. Had Varitek accepted arbitration, he would have been contractually bound to the Red Sox in 2009, however the Red Sox could have released him in Spring Training and would have only had to pay a fifth of his contract.

Boston Red Sox merchandise Although it does seem unlikely that the Red Sox would do that to their long time veteran that might have been one of the reasons why Varitek denied arbitration. Upon refusing arbitration, the Red Sox would have received two draft picks as compensation if Varitek, a Type A free agent, had signed somewhere else. To make matters worse, when the deal with Mark Teixeira fell through, the Red Sox’s relationship with Scott Boras, Varitek’s agent was ruined. It turns out that refusing arbitration was a bad move. Scott Boras claimed that Varitek would be receiving an abundance of offers, but he received none. Jason Varitek requested a private meeting with John W. Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox. After that meeting it was a bit clearer that both sides had mutual interest and soon thereafter, Jason Varitek was offered a deal with a one-week deadline. On Friday January 31, Varitek agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million dollars with an option for the 2010 season.

Even though Jason Varitek batted a mere .220 with 13 home runs last year, it is his performance behind the plate, and his contributions beyond the plans that count. Varitek is the only catcher in Major League history to have caught four no hitters, the most recent being Jon Lester’s. Everyone in the Red Sox organization knows how important Jason is.


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Jonathan Papelbon said,
“There are certain players in Major League Baseball that you take a gamble on, whether it's age or whether it's money... Varitek is, no question about it, in that category... Whether it's a money issue, or whether it's an age issue, there's not question in my mind, you make a gamble with a person like that. It's that simple to me."

Curt Schilling may have put it best when he said, "Jason knows us as good, if not better, than we know ourselves" 

Manny Delcarmen said, "To me, he's the backbone of the te am. Throughout this whole thing, I thought it would be kind of weird not having him in the clubhouse and not having him there to yell at me for not pitching inside. I'm sure a lot of guys feel the same way. Everyone is happy that it's over. "

Dustin Pedroia, the American League 2008 Most Valuable Player said, “He's a guy that I think everybody relies on, he's a guy where, if you have a problem with anything, you go to 'Tek and he helps you out with anything. He's so smart. He's got so much baseball knowledge. He's a winning player. That's the only way to describe 'Tek. He does everything he can to help this ballclub win. That's why he's one of the best catchers in the business."

Jason Varitek has caught more games than any other catcher in Red Sox history and he will be increasing his current number of 1,274 in 2009.


By Elizabeth Dreeson
ProBaseball-fans.com Red Sox Correspondent

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