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Red Sox sign Varitek for one year

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 2, 2010 03:25 PM

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The Red Sox have signed Jason Varitek to a one-year deal worth $2 million according to a baseball source. The deal includes $300,000 in incentives that likely would be based on how often he plays.

It seems apparent now that the Red Sox are prepared to move forward with Jarrod Saltalamacchia as their regular catcher and Varitek as the backup. This was the scenario first reported by Nick Cafardo on Oct. 3 and he was right on the money.

For Varitek, the coming season will be his 15th with the team. The captain, who will turn 39 in April, will apparently serve as the backup and mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

UPDATE, 3:51 p.m.: There are two ways to look at his. Saltalamacchia and Varitek combined to play 51 major league games last season. They had a .221 batting average, seven home runs and 18 RBIs.

Those are your catchers. Yikes.

Or you can look at this way. Varitek's career line against lefties is .279/.359/.471 and Saltalamacchia's career line against righthanders is .273/.343/.422. If they reach those averages in 2011, the Red Sox will get well above the league average when compared to other catchers.

The Red Sox value what Varitek brings as far as game preparation and experience against the AL. It is fairly well impossible to quantify that statistically but there certainly is value in that.

The Sox also like what they see in Ryan Lavarnway, who hit well when he got to Portland last season and again the Arizona Fall League. If the Salty/Tek combo is a midseason bust, perhaps Lavarnway will be ready to contribute.

Theo Epstein predicted during the GM Meetings that the Red Sox have to fill one of their needs without a high-profile acquisition. The question now becomes what happens at third base and left field.

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Here in the Dominican Republic, David Ortiz was thrilled to get the news.

"That's great for us," he said. "That's like hearing my brother is back."

Daniel Bard just checked in and said that was what he hoped would happen. Obviously the Red Six pitchers have developed a relationship with Varitek over the years. With a new pitching coach, his return will help ease that transition.


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