LAS VEGAS - A source close to Sox catcher Jason Varitek confirmed that Varitek would decline salary arbitration from the Red Sox before the midnight deadline. This will allow Varitek to pursue his free-agent market without being tied exclusively to the Red Sox for the upcoming season.
Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, who was due in here late tonight, always believes he can create a market for a player. While the market for Varitek doesn't appear to be vast at this point, Boras understands it's still early in the process and there are teams - the Tigers, Marlins, Dodgers to name three, who could use an experienced catcher.
Declining arbitration certainly doesn't mean Varitek, who hit .220, can't continue to negotiate with Boston, but accepting arbitration would have insured he'd be a Red Sox for another season and he could have continued to negotiate on something long term. Varitek is coming off a four-year, $40 million deal and would likely have made at least the $10 million per year he earned in 2008 if he went to arbitration.
The Red Sox were also expecting that right-hander Paul Byrd would decline arbitration.