CHICAGO - Sox GM Theo Epstein said today that Victor Martinez, whose $7.1 million option was picked up today, will be the Red Sox' full-time catcher in 2010.
"We're going to really look for Victor to be the everyday catcher next year," Epstein said. "What puts us in the best position to win is for Victor catching as much as he can. The spot we'll have available is for more of a traditional backup. We'll see what Tek's (Jason Varitek) decision is before we move forward. He's got five days to exercise his player option. You can always negotiate but in this case it's his decision to make."
The Red Sox declined the $5 million option on Varitek, but Varitek can exercise his $3 million option.
As for whether he'd be comfortable as a backup, Epstein said, "Yeah, I think so. There's a school of thought that says he'd perform better with a bit more rest. He'd have the opportunity to rest more with Victor catching more next year."
Epstein said of Martinez' ability to catch fulltime, "He really sees himself as a catcher. We have to be smart about it. We can't push him to the point where we have diminishing returns. He feels he can catch a bit more and prepare himself to do that."
Epstein said he didn't know exactly how many games that would be.
"We haven't put an exact number on it. A lot depends on the exact shape he's in. We expect him to be in really good shape. He''s a really hard worker. We'll have to figure that out as we go," Epstein said.