Red Sox did well by bringing back Varitek
January, 30, 2009
Our man Jayson Stark on the Never Ending Story that has finally ended with a two-year deal that guarantees Jason Varitek $5 million this year and $3 million next year (if he wants it)
Varitek earned $10 million last year ($3 million of it deferred without interest) in the final season of a four-year, $40 million contract he'd signed in December 2004. The Red Sox offered him arbitration nearly eight weeks ago, and had he accepted, he probably would have earned in the neighborhood of $11 million this season.
But when Varitek declined, it left him with no leverage and no market elsewhere. Other teams weren't willing to surrender a first-round draft pick for a soon-to-be 37-year-old catcher who batted .220, with a career-low .672 OPS, last season. And the Red Sox, knowing Varitek had no other teams pursuing him, weren't willing to pay him a salary even close to what he made last year.
Varitek, on the other hand, never seemed to have much interest in playing elsewhere -- which even further depressed his market. The Boston Globe reported this week he was considering retirement, or positioning himself as a midseason free agent, rather than accept the club's offer. But there are no indications the Red Sox believed Varitek had any serious intention to retire.