FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dan Duquette was the general manager who pulled off the lopsided trade that landed Jason Varitek with the Red Sox in 1997.
Duquette gave Seattle reliever Heathcliff Slocumb at the trade deadline and got Varitek and Derek Lowe in return.
Now the GM of the Orioles, Duquette remembered that trade and what Varitek meant to the Red Sox today while talking to reporters in Sarasota.
“He’s one of the great catchers in the history of the organization. But he was the leader, they gave him the ‘C’. I think Red Sox fans appreciated his contributions to the team and I’m sure the team is going to miss his contribution, because the catcher is so vital to the overall success of the team,” Duquette said.
“He has a terrific work ethic and leadership ability. He learned and became the best in the business at getting hitters out, which is the key part of the job.”
Duquette also remembered some details of the trade and why he wanted Varitek at the time.
“We had Mike Stanley and Mike could still hit, but his catching skills, as he spent more time with us, we needed a younger, more vital catcher. So that’s what drove the move,” he said. “Jason Varitek played in the Cape League and he played at Georgia Tech with Nomar [Garciaparra] and he was drafted several times before he started his career. He was very stubborn about starting his career and that stubbornness was really one of the great qualities that he brought to the catching position with the Red Sox.
“We were looking for a catcher. Everybody in the business knew Jason Varitek because he was drafted twice in the first round. Did we know he’d be with the Red Sox for 15 years and lead the team to two championships? No. But to his credit, he had all the skills and he deserves all the credit for the great work ethic that he developed. His tenacity as a competitor. This kid, whenever we went into Yankee Stadium, he always had a big game. He always did something to help the team win on the big stage.”
Duquette believes Varitek will continue to thrive.
“Great leaders are very rare and Varitek’s a great leader because he walks the talk. You can’t be great without being a student of the game. And Jason Varitek is a student of the game. And the skills that he had to lead the Red Sox on the fields for 15 years, they will be a big asset for the organization, whatever job that he does for the Red Sox,” he said.