Archive for January, 2009

Varitek, Sox agree to foundation of a deal

Friday, January 30th, 2009

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox and Jason Varitek have agreed to the foundation of a deal which will pay the catcher a guaranteed $5 million for 2009, while allowing for a $5 million team option or a $3 million player option for 2010. Boston.com is also reporting that Varitek can earn up to $2 million in incentives in ’10. The deal is unofficial until Varitek has a physical next week. 

SI.com was the first to report the preliminary agreement.

Much more later, but until then I give you two of our bloggers viewpoint on the matter, Gary from Chapel Hill and Curt Schilling, presenting the pros and cons of bringing the captain back.

Stats Scott Boras Didn’t Want the Red Sox To See

The Merits of Jason Varitek

And, for more Varitek, see Alex Speier’s story on why the Sox didn’t have a suitable replacement in the minors when this saga came around.

Here is the AP story

Varitek non-update

Friday, January 30th, 2009

There’s very little to report on the Jason Varitek front, according to a source familiar with negotiations. While there seems a desire for a decision–one way or the other–to be reached today (the Red Sox did articulate a Friday deadline for the talks, though the notion of an 8:30 a.m. deadline appears to have been erroneous), the source said that it would be “premature” to say that a decision would or even must be reached today.

If the two sides do reach an agreement, an official announcement would be unlikely until next week, since Varitek would still have to come to Boston for a physical prior to making a deal official. As we wait for some evidence of movement in either direction, it is worth comtemplating Varitek’s performance.

Gary From Chapel Hill looks at the offensive limitations of Varitek in recent years

Quantifying Varitek’s defense is more difficult; in this article, I looked at the performance of members of the Red Sox pitching staff last year with both Varitek and Kevin Cash behind the plate

This analysis (hat-tip: Rob Neyer) suggests that Red Sox pitchers have not been discernably better with Varitek behind the plate than with other catchers

Of course, Scott Boras has been aware of these factors throughout the negotiations, perhaps helping to explain why, at the winter meetings (just after Varitek and Boras declined the Red Sox offer of arbitration), the agent focused on his client’s intangibles in emphasizing his value.

“Representing a catcher is like buying submarines,” said Boras. “You have to look way under the water to find out what’s going on.”

Varitek deadline

Friday, January 30th, 2009

A Red Sox official denied a report that catcher Jason Varitek faced an 8:30 a.m. deadline to accept or walk away from the Red Sox’ one- and two-year contract offers, suggesting that the situation would not be resolved this morning, and was unlikely to reach a conclusion until at least this afternoon, and perhaps later. We will keep you updated as the situation develops.

Schilling expects Varitek back in Boston

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Curt Schilling, in his weekly appearance on the Big Show, suggested that based on his recent conversations with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, he expects the career Sox to come to terms on a one- or two-year deal.

SCHILLING: “I’ve talked with Jason a couple different times about this. I think there’s probably some discussion going on around the parameters of a deal since it was put on the table. In fact, I know there (has been). I think you’re going to end up with a deal that nets Jason the $10 million over two years, somehow guaranteed or tied into some incentives, that keeps him here, or I think he might end up taking the one-year deal. I’m not positive, but at the end of the day I think it’s going to be Jason Varitek catching for the Boston Red Sox, which is really all I care about.

GLENN ORDWAY: If he can get the $10 million over two years, that makes a lot more sense.

SCHILLING. After he fires his agent, it makes a lot more sense.

ORDWAY: You think that’s a possibility?

SCHILLING. No I don’t, because I know how much Jason thinks about Scott. But I would probably be on day six of having no agent if it had been me. But again, he’s been with Jason for a long time, through a lot of stuff.

Report: Varitek considering retirement?

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

This morning, WEEI’s Michael Holley suggested that negotiations between the Red Sox and catcher Jason Varitek showed little sign of progress. Here’s the exchange between Dale and Holley:

Holley: I have moles, who have told me that if the deadline were today, which is Thursday, we’re a couple days away or a day away-
Dale: Yeah supposedly it’s tomorrow.
Holley: If the deadline were today, no deal.
Dale: OK and that’s what I’m asking, I mean are you getting indications of that or is it an opinion? Which is perfectly valid as well I just wasn’t sure what it was based on.
Holley: If the deadline were today, no deal.

Now, Tony Massarotti of boston.com, citing a baseball source, reports that the catcher “is very seriously considering the option of sitting out the 2009 season and/or retiring rather than accepting the contract offer made to him last week.”

To review: the Red Sox offered Varitek a one-year $5 million deal with a 2010 club option for another $5 million or, should the club not exercise it, a $3 million player option. (The Sox also offered a straight one-year, $5 million offer for 2009 without the options.) That proposal came with a deadline, which Massarotti reports is for Friday morning.

It seems hard to fathom Varitek retiring due to a perceived slight. In the past, he has expressed a desire to play for as long as he can, likely into his 40s. It could be that the notion of retirement is being used to create leverage where none exists- just as agent Scott Boras used the threat of a return to Japan by Daisuke Matsuzaka in a largely unsuccessful effort to get the Red Sox to adjust their demands in December 2006.

Clearly, the next 24 hours will be fascinating to monitor, with some resolution perhaps near at hand for the longtime staple of the Red Sox.

Lowell takes swings, but gets word of no WBC

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The reality of rehab hit Mike Lowell in an uneven way Tuesday.

There was good news — the third baseman swung a bat for the first time since Game 3 of the American League Division Series, taking 50 cuts off of a batting tee.

Then came the bad.

The Red Sox third baseman, who continues to rehab from surgery on his torn hip labrum, received a letter from Lou Melendez, the general manager of the Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic team, yesterday. In the note, which was directed to Lowell’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, Melendez informed the 34-year-old that he would not be eligible to play for Puerto Rico in the upcoming WBC.

Melendez explained in the letter that because of Lowell’s Oct. 20 surgery, the Red Sox requesting that the third baseman not participate, and the fact the third baseman wouldn’t meet many of the levels of criteria used to determine availability, he was being taken off Puerto Rico’s list of eligible players. Lowell had originally been put on the club’s provisional roster.

While the news didn’t come as a surprise — the current scheduled progression for Lowell’s rehab suggests he might not be ready to participate in full games by the time Puerto Rico plays it opener on March 7 — it still allowed for some disappointment. Lowell’s father, Carl, is one of the most revered baseball players ever to represent Puerto Rico, having been inducted into the territory’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

RELATED LINKS:

Lowell focused on hip, not rumors

Brady serves as cautionary tale for Lowell

Report: Rangers want Buchholz for Saltalamacchia

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

This doesn’t exactly qualify as breaking news, since it merely reinforces the same notion that has been floated all winter, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers remain open to dealing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in exchange for pitcher Clay Buchholz. Of course, the crux of the dilemma in discussions between the Red Sox and Rangers all offseason has been the unwillingness of the Red Sox to part with the 24-year-old at a time when they would be selling low on a pitcher who was considered one of the top handful of prospects in baseball a year ago.

During the winter meetings, Rangers President Nolan Ryan told the Providence Journal that Buchholz “would look really good in a Texas uniform” (a comment that a club spokesman claimed was a joke), prompting Sox G.M. Theo Epstein to underscore the value that Boston attaches to a talented pitcher who struggled to a 2-9 record and 6.75 ERA with the Sox in 2008:

“In our minds he’s a top of the rotation starter who we control for six years,” said Epstein. “He’s a very big piece and we value him tremendously.”