Catcher is first free agent to re-sign with Sox

Updated: November 29, 2004, 7:55 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Catcher Doug Mirabelli became the first of Boston's 16 free agents to re-sign, agreeing Monday on a $3 million, two-year contract with the World Series champion Red Sox.

Doug Mirabelli
Boston Red Sox
59 9 32 27 0 .281

Mirabelli will earn a $200,000 signing bonus and $1.4 million in each of the next two seasons.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Mirabelli made $825,000 last season, when he batted .281 with nine homers and 32 RBI in 160 at-bats as Jason Varitek's backup and the regular catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Mirabelli had sought work as a regular catcher. Instead, he nearly doubled his pay to stay with the Red Sox, who also are trying to re-sign Varitek.

Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, has said he wants a five-year deal for $50 million.

Fourteen players who finished the season with the Red Sox and became free agents remain unsigned, including Varitek, pitchers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe and shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

Boston has reportedly offered Martinez a two-year contract worth about $25 million with a third year that could become guaranteed to bring the deal to $38 million. Cabrera is seeking a multiyear deal, but the Red Sox don't want to commit long-term because prospect Hanley Ramirez could be ready as soon as 2006.

Mirabelli, 34, was acquired during the 2001 season from the Texas Rangers for Justin Duchscherer. Mirabelli hit .305 with nine homers and 29 RBI in his 41 starts last season. He had a .525 slugging percentage last year -- best among AL catchers with at least 40 games.

Red Sox pitchers had a 4.19 ERA with Varitek behind the plate, compared to 4.26 with Mirabelli.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press