Here is the press release from our friends on Yawkey Way confirming the earlier news that the Red Sox have picked up Victor Martinez’s option and re-signed pitcher Tim Wakefield to a two-year contract for $5 million plus incentives.
The club announced it has declined a $5 million team option on catcher Jason Varitek. He now has four days to decide whether to exercise his $3 million option or become a free agent.
In addition, Sox GM Theo Epstein said today that Martinez 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.”
RED SOX EXERCISE 2010 CONTRACT OPTION ON CATCHER VICTOR MARTINEZ; SIGN RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER TIM WAKEFIELD TO TWO-YEAR CONTRACT
— Club declines 2010 options on shortstop Alex Gonzalez and catcher Jason Varitek —
BOSTON, MA — The Boston Red Sox today exercised the 2010 contract option on catcher Victor Martinez and declined to exercise team options on shortstop Alex Gonzalez and catcher Jason Varitek.
Additionally, the club signed right-handed pitcher Tim Wakefield to a two-year contract. No further terms were disclosed.
The announcements were made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
Acquired by the Red Sox from the Indians on July 31, Martinez combined to hit .303 (178-for-588) with 33 doubles, 23 home runs and 108 RBI in a career-high 155 games between Boston and Cleveland in 2009. Named an American League All-Star for the third time in his career, he made 85 appearances at catcher (82 starts) and 70 (66 starts) at first base. Martinez, 30, finished among AL leaders in RBI (T-5th), road batting average (7th, .323) and average vs. right-handers (10th, .316), and also ranked among the league’s top switch-hitters in RBI (T-2nd), batting average (4th), on-base percentage (4th, .381), home runs (5th) and slugging (5th, .480). In his 56 games with Boston, he hit .336 (71-for-211) with eight home runs and 41 RBI.
Martinez has compiled a .299 career batting average (971-for-3,246) with 111 home runs and 559 RBI in 877 Major League games over parts of eight seasons with the Indians (2002-09) and Red Sox (2009). He leads the Majors with 161 doubles and 429 RBI as a catcher since the start of the 2004 campaign.
The 43-year-old Wakefield posted an 11-5 record and 4.58 ERA (66 ER/129.2 IP) in 21 starts for Boston during the 2009 season. He finished fifth among AL qualifiers with a .688 winning percentage and reached double-digits in victories for a club-record 11th time. The right-hander earned his first career All-Star selection this summer and, then 42, was the oldest player to do so since Satchel Paige (46) in 1952.
Wakefield holds the all-time Red Sox record with 388 starts, ranks second in club history with 1,869 strikeouts and 525 appearances, and third with 175 wins and 2,711.1 innings. His 15 seasons with the Red Sox are fifth-most in club history behind Carl Yastrzemski (23), Dwight Evans (19), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16). He is also one of just 19 pitchers ever to spend at least 15 seasons with a single AL franchise.
Gonzalez, 32, combined to bat .238 (93-for-391) with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 112 games with Cincinnati and Boston in 2009. Traded to the Red Sox on August 14, he hit at a .284 clip (42-for-148) with five home runs and 15 RBI while posting a .994 fielding percentage (1 error/159 total chances) at shortstop in 44 AL games (43 starts).
Varitek, 37, was behind the plate in 108 games for Boston in 2009, including 106 starts. The switch-hitter batted .209 (76-for-364) with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. Over parts of 13 Major League seasons with the Red Sox, he has caught in a club-record 1,381 contests and ranks among franchise all-time leaders in overall games played (9th, 1,439), doubles (8th, 290), home runs (12th, 175), RBI (15th, 705) and walks (15th, 583).