|11.13.09 at 7:38 pm ET|
Closer Jonathan Papelbon heads the list of eight Red Sox players who are under team control for next year but are eligible for salary arbitration. Players who fall into that category have fewer than six years of major-league service time but more than three years.
There is a separate group of arbitration-eligible players, known as Super-2s, who rank among the top 17 percent of service time for players with between two and three years of service time and who spent at least 86 days in the majors in the previous season. This year, the cutoff for Super-2 eligibility was two years, 139 days in the bigs. The Sox do not have any players who qualify for Super-2 arbitration eligibility; in fact, during the administration of GM Theo Epstein, the team has had only one Super-2, when Bronson Arroyo qualified for salary arbitration in 2005.
The list, with 2009 salaries and career service time:
1B Casey Kotchman ($2.885 million): 4 years, 144 days
RHP Jonathan Papelbon ($6.25 million): 4 years, 64 days
OF Jeremy Hermida ($2.25 million): 4 years, 33 days
RHP Manny Delcarmen ($476,000): 3 years, 133 days
RHP Ramon Ramirez ($441,000): 3 years, 113 days
RHP Fernando Cabrera ($700,000): 3 years, 104 days
OF Brian Anderson ($440,000): 3 years, 53 days
LHP Hideki Okajima ($1.75 million): 3 years, 0 days
|11.13.09 at 2:49 pm ET|
Joe Urbon, the agent for free-agent outfielder Jason Bay, said that he has remained in contact with the Red Sox since the end of the season about his client. While Urbon also has talked with several teams who have expressed interest in the outfielder — who won the Silver Slugger Award as the top hitting left fielder in the American League on Thursday — the Sox currently have an exclusive window to discuss contract terms with Bay that runs through Nov. 19.
Come next Thursday, all 30 clubs are free to discuss years and dollars with Bay. Neither Urbon nor the Sox expect that an agreement will be reached before the close of that exclusive negotiating window. Even so, the agent suggests that the two sides plan to continue their conversations about a potential return if and when Bay starts negotiating with other clubs.
“There’s just as good a chance of Jason staying with his current club as there is with him going to any other club,” said Urbon. “We’ve had communication with Boston. I’ve spoken with [Sox GM Theo Epstein]. It’s been very candid. I think there is a sentiment from the club and from Jason and frankly from myself that we don’t see any reason why he won’t proceed to free agency. With that said, we don’t see any reason why we won’t continue to have open dialogue with the Red Sox, along with other clubs that are interested. We’re all on the same page with regards to that.”
To date, Urbon said, conversations with clubs have focused on the outfielder’s combination of durability and productivity. Urbon declined to detail the clubs with whom he had been in conversation about Bay. Even so, he made clear that interest in Bay has been widespread, representing teams from both the American and National Leagues — a fact that would suggest that the market for the outfielder is not being impacted by concerns about his defense.
“Interest has been very well distributed between the two leagues,” said Urbon. “Not one club mentioned anything about [defense]. I think it becomes a talking point, because it’s worth talking about and dissecting and evaluating, but at the end of the day, his ability to play a consistent left field, clubs are well aware of it. I haven’t heard any issue or concern about whether or not the player can play defense in a bigger park, a smaller park, an East Coast park, a West Coast park. It really wasn’t an issue.”
|11.12.09 at 6:33 pm ET|
What figures to be a memorable offseason for Jason Bay has started out on a good note for the free agent outfielder.
It was announced by Major League Baseball that Bay has won his first Silver Slugger award, presented to the best players at their respective positions in both the American and National Leagues.
“It’s exciting to win my first Silver Slugger,” Bay said via a text message, “especially given the number of great offensive outfielders in the AL.”
Bay led all AL outfielders with 36 HR and 119 RBI, while finishing third in OPS (slugging and on-base percentage combined), coming in at .921. The home run and RBI totals were the highest in the 31-year-old’s seven-year major league career.
Bay was the only member of the ’09 Red Sox to win the award, after second baseman Dustin Pedroia had claimed his first in ’08. Other recent Sox winners include David Ortiz (2004-07), Manny Ramirez (2000-06), and Jason Varitek (2005). Click here to see the history of Silver Slugger winners.
|11.12.09 at 2:39 pm ET|
Jason Varitek’s struggles at the plate over the last two seasons are widely known. They are a large part of the reason why he not only signed the contract that he did last offseason — a one-year, $5 million deal for the 2009 season that featured a team option for 2010 at $5 million, and a player option for 2010 of $3 million — but also why the Sox declined their option, and why Varitek exercised his.
Put simply, his offensive production was not merely among the worst in the majors during the second half of last year — it was also among the worst in the majors for a half-season over the last 25 years. Here is a closer look:
Comparing Jason Varitek to other MLB catchers:
* – In total 2009 OPS, Varitek’s .703 OPS ranked 18th among MLB catchers with 300 or more plate appearances. However, let’s look at his OPS by month during 2009:
April – .881 (.250 with 4 HR in 60 AB)
May – .824 (.231 with 6 HR in 78 AB)
June – .750 (.234 with 1 HR in 64 AB)
July – .736 (.231 with 2 HR in 65 AB)
August – .483 (.135 with 1 HR in 52 AB)
September – .382 (.133 with 0 HR in 45 AB)
* – Following the All-Star break, Varitek hit .157 (21 for 134) with 1 HR and a .489 OPS. It was the lowest OPS in the majors last season following the break. In fact, it was the lowest post-break OPS by a catcher since 1985 (min. 150+ PA):
.489 – Jason Varitek, BOS (2009)
.505 – Mike Matheny, STL (2001)
.513 – Sandy Alomar Jr, CLE (1998)
.519 – John Flaherty, DET (1995)
.525 – Dave Valle, SEA (1987)
* – Against right-handed pitchers (with Varitek batting left-handed — his weak side), here are his monthly marks this season:
April – .890 (.261 with 3 HR in 46 AB)
May – .650 (.203 with 2 HR in 59 AB)
June – .818 (.244 with 1 HR in 41 AB)
July – .693 (.217 with 1 HR in 46 AB)
August – .460 (.111 with 1 HR in 36 AB)
September – .333 (.125 with 0 HR in 32 AB)
That adds up to a .487 OPS (.156 with 1 HR in 96 AB) following the All-Star Break against right-handers, the lowest among catchers and the 3rd lowest of any player in the majors (min. 100 post-ASB PA vs RHP):
.463 – Alberto Gonzalez
.473 – Jermaine Dye
.487 – Jason Varitek
.490 – Willy Taveras
Over the past three seasons, Varitek has a .575 OPS against RHP after the All-Star break, lowest among catchers and 2nd lowest of any hitter in the majors during that span (min. 350 such PA):
.526 – Brandon Inge
.575 – Jason Varitek
.628 – Ryan Theriot
.630 – Pedro Feliz
.636 – Jeff Keppinger
The next catcher on the list is Jason Kendall (.670), almost 100 points higher than Varitek.
* -‘Tek went 3 for his last 40 against RHP with 2 strikes (dating back to mid-July).
* – Against RHP with RISP, 2 outs, and 2 strikes, Varitek is 5 for his last 53 (.094) dating back to August, 2007.
* – The problems aren’t limited to offense, either. Varitek threw out only 8.5% of basestealers in 2009, the lowest percentage in the majors:
In fact, Varitek’s percentage is the lowest in MLB over the past two seasons combined (min. 130+ attempts):
12.3% – Jason Varitek (23-187)
13.7% – AJ Pierzynski (31-226)
14.9% – Mike Napoli (22-148)
|11.12.09 at 1:38 am ET|
The offseason is officially underway. Already, it’s been a busy time for Major League Baseball and the Red Sox. The Sox have traded for outfielder Jeremy Hermida, signed Tim Wakefield to a two-year deal that should take him through retirement and seen Jason Varitek elect to return for what will be arguably the most prominent backup role in the majors.
Questions remain about whether the Red Sox will be able to bring back Jason Bay, what potential blockbuster acquisitions the team might pursue this offseason and whether the Sox can improve upon the club that got swept out of the playoffs by the Angels this year.
There’s plenty to digest, and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford (freshly — or, perhaps, not-so-freshly — back from the GM Meetings in Chicago) and Alex Speier will be in the Virtual Pressbox on Thursday, November 12, at noon, to take your questions about what will happen during what could be another wild offseason. Join them in the fifth installment of the WEEI.com Thursday baseball chat series.
Nov. 5 — Former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette
Oct. 29 — Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay
Oct. 22 — Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan
|11.11.09 at 4:54 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has exercised his $3 million player option (that includes the potential for up to $2 million in bonuses) for the 2010 season. Varitek his .209 with a .313 OBP and .390 slugging mark in 2009, and he ceded playing time to Victor Martinez after the switch-hitter was acquired from the Indians at the trade deadline. Sox GM Theo Epstein has made clear that the job of starting catcher for the Sox will belong to Martinez in 2010, meaning that Varitek’s role would be that of a backup.
“We’re happy to have Jason back,” Epstein said. “We look forward to a good year from him in 2010. He means an awful lot to the organization on and off the field. He helps solidify our catching position and is also a big asset to the pitching staff. We’re happy that he decided to come back and stay in the organization that he’s been such an important of.”
Though Varitek’s on-field role diminished over the course of the year, his Sox teammates insisted that the team captain still had plenty to contribute, whether on the field or in the clubhouse. The catcher worked closely with Martinez to help his transition to a new pitching staff in the middle of the season.
“He’s definitely one of those guys I’d love to see back, even if the transition starts like it started at the end of the year,” pitcher Josh Beckett said. “I think there’s a lot of things that a lot of people can learn from him. And him being around, it’s never a bad thing. He’s so great with young guys and he knows to run a clubhouse and that’s why he wears that ‘C’ on his chest.
The Sox decided not to exercise a $5 million team option on Varitek for the 2010 season. He signed his current contract — a one-year, $5 million deal that featured both player and team options — in January.
Here is the official Red Sox press release:
The Boston Red Sox today were notified that catcher Jason Varitek has exercised his 2010 contract option with the club.
The Red Sox announced on Monday that they declined to exercise the 2010 team option on Varitek’s contract. The catcher had until today to exercise or decline the 2010 player option on that contract.
Varitek, 37, was behind the plate in 108 games for the Red Sox in 2009, including 106 starts. He led the American League with a 3.87 catcher ERA and ranked second among AL backstops with a .997 fielding percentage (3 errors/896 total chances). At the plate, the switch-hitter batted .209 (76-for-364) with 14 home runs and 51 RBI.
Acquired by Boston from Seattle on July 31, 1997, Varitek has hit .259 (1,232-for-4,765) with 175 home runs and 705 RBI in 1,439 career Major League games over parts of 13 seasons with the Red Sox. He has been behind the plate in a club-record 1,381 contests and ranks among franchise all-time leaders in overall games played (9th), doubles (8th, 290), home runs (12th), RBI (15th) and walks (15th, 583).
|11.11.09 at 4:28 pm ET|
CHICAGO — As the O’Hare International Airport Hilton empties out of baseball folks, the topic of those left standing is that of a Nikkan Sports report that the Red Sox are preparing a four-year contract offer to Hideki Matsui.
The report raised some eyebrows, not only because Matsui is 35 and didn’t play a single game in the outfield last season, but also because just minutes before the report started circulating Yankees GM Brian Cashman definitely told a pack of reporters that Matsui would not be considered for outfield duty if New York was to bring him back.
Matsui, who was intent on getting his balky knees in better shape, did previously tell MLB.com “”That’s going to be a challenge that I’m going to have to work on during the offseason. Regardless of whether I could be back in the outfield or not, that’s something that I’m going to be working on, trying to get back in the outfield to see how capable I can be.”
|11.11.09 at 1:47 pm ET|
— There still is no word on Jason Varitek, who has until midnight to activate his $3 million player option. The deadline is such since the Red Sox had informed the catcher that they wouldn’t be picking up the $5 million team option last Friday.
— Epstein met with Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, for approximately 30 minutes Tuesday night, during which time the catcher was the primary topic of conversation.
— Epstein talked with Billy Wagner‘s agent, Bean Stringfellow, Tuesday night regarding the reliever’s openness to accepting arbitration if/when the Sox offer it. The Red Sox would be open to having Wagner back, but on terms that would allow his contract to fit in the construction of their roster. There is no level the Sox would have to adhere to when it came to the dollar figure they would offer in an arbitration case.
— The Red Sox have re-hired former advance scout Todd Claus, who had been the head coach at Jacksonville University, to become an international scout.
— The Sox plan on re-implementing the two-man advance scouting system they had used prior to Claus leaving, before the 2009 season. Dana Levangie will continue in his role as one of the advance scouts, with the team filling the other job in the near future.
— Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina has been reassigned to become a roving infield instructor, and is still in the mix to fill a position on the major league club’s coaching staff. Epstein plans on interviewing candidates for that coaching spot over the next few days.
|11.11.09 at 1:10 pm ET|
‘ There still is no word on Jason Varitek, who has until midnight to activate his $3 million player option. The deadline is such since the Red Sox had informed the catcher that they wouldn’t be picking up the $5 million team option last Friday.
‘ Epstein met with Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, for approximately 30 minutes Tuesday night, during which time the catcher was the primary topic of conversation.
‘ Epstein talked with Billy Wagner’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, Tuesday night regarding the reliever’s openness to accepting arbitration if/when the Sox offer it. The Red Sox would be open to having Wagner back, but on terms that would allow his contract to fit in the construct of their roster. There is no level the Sox would have to adhere to when it came to the dollar figure they would offer in an arbitration case.
‘ The Red Sox have re-hired former advance scout Dave Jauss, who had been the head coach at Jacksonville University, to become an international scout.
‘ The Sox plan on re-implementing the two-man advance scouting system they had used prior to Jauss leaving, before the 2009 season. Dana Levangie will continue in his role as one of the advance scouts, with the team filling the other job in the near future.
‘ Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina has been reassigned to become a roving infield instructor, and is still in the mix to fill a position on the major league club’s coaching staff. Epstein plans on interviewing candidates for that coaching spot over the next few days.
|11.11.09 at 5:42 am ET|
Reliever Billy Wagner’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, told the Boston Herald that his client might be open to accepting arbitration if the Red Sox offer it. Wagner is a Type A free agent and would allow the Sox to receive two draft picks if he declined arbitration and signed with another team.
‘Will Billy reject (arbitration)?’ Stringfellow told the Herald. ‘I just visited with Billy and his family the other day and I can tell you this much: Billy thoroughly enjoyed his time in Boston. It was one of the best experiences he has ever had in baseball. So, does he rule out accepting arbitration? No, he doesn’t.”
Wagner had garnered the assurance of the Red Sox that they wouldn’t pick up his $8 million option for 2010, allowing the pitcher to pursue opportunities to become a closer with another team. Wagner had told WEEI.com during the season that accepting arbitration wasn’t thought to be a path he was ready to explore.
“I know they’re going to offer me arbitration and of course I’m probably going to turn it down,” Wagner said. “I have a million people telling me why would you turn down the option, or why would you do this or that. Well, I didn’t come in this game looking for money, I was just good enough to make some.”
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