In case you're wondering, a source has confirmed an agreement between the Red Sox and catcher Josh Bard, whom the club eyes as a backup, perhaps to Jason Varitek. The Bard acquisition in no way eliminates the chance of Varitek returning to the club in 2009.
Bard's deal is worth $1.7 million, though indications are that most or all of that money is non-guaranteed. By major league rules, as little as one-sixth or one-fourth of that amount would be guaranteed if the Sox were to release Bard during spring training, making his deal similar to Doug Mirabelli's entering camp last year.
Bard's deal also has incentives that could bring it to within the range of $2.5 million.
Bard appears likely to work again with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, though that could change depending on who else the club signs to handle catching duties. (If Varitek returns, it will almost certainly be Bard.) Sox officials believed that Bard, in time, would have learned to handle Wakefield when the catcher struggled early in the 2006 season, but the team's fast start and Bard's considerable difficulties inspired them to trade him and reacquire Mirabelli early that year.
One final note: The switch-hitting Bard generally has proven more effective from the right side of the plate, which does not necessarily make him the best fit with Varitek. Varitek, too, is far more productive from the right side, which leaves the Sox vulnerable to righthanded pitching at the catcher position.