Roughly three months after the end of their 2008 season and fewer than three weeks before the start of spring training, the Red Sox have made a formal proposal to catcher Jason Varitek that could end a winter-long stalemate.
One way or the other.
According to a baseball source, the Sox have formally presented an offer to Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, that could appease the catcher’s desire for a second guaranteed season. While the precise value or term of the proposal was unclear, the Sox could ensure Varitek a second year by guaranteeing it outright or making it attainable through an option.
In the latter scenario, Varitek could trigger the option through reachable incentives (like at-bats or games played), or the club could grant him a straight player option for the 2010 season. Another possibility would involve a dual option, first giving the Sox the choice of bringing back Varitek next season (at a higher number) and, subsequently, Varitek the right to return on his own volition (albeit at a lower number than the team’s option).
Varitek earned $10 million last season in base salary and a prorated share of his signing bonus, a number he almost certainly will not reach this offseason. From the very beginning of negotiations with the Sox, multiple sources have indicated that Varitek has wanted at least a two-year deal, something that helps bring into better focus much of the happenings over the last few months.
In December, for instance, Varitek and Boras rejected the Sox’ offer of salary arbitration, a process that might have earned Varitek a $10 million-$12 million salary in 2009. According to sources, Boras and the player discussed accepting arbitration with the hope of then using the process to negotiate a two-year contract, but the player and agent ultimately decided against it for an assortment of reasons.
The current offer to Varitek was made within the last three or four days, sources said, and it was unclear whether Varitek and Boras were presented with a deadline of any kind. Given that pitchers and catchers are due to report to Fort Myers for spring training on Feb. 12, however, it certainly would behoove both sides to resolve the matter quickly.