Update: Varitek Offer Expires Saturday
Well, now we know. Jason Varitek's two-year offer -- if you can call a one-year deal with mutual options a two-year offer -- expires Saturday night. According to the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman, it's been out there since the end of last week, so the Red Sox are giving their incumbent catcher a full week to decide on whether to accept it or not.
The most interesting developing take on the situation, however, may come from the Globe's Tony Massarotti, who claims that the more people he talks to, the more he feels that Varitek will try to get Boston to drop the second year options. That flies directly in the face of everything the catcher has openly campaigned for all offseason -- financial stability and peace of mind in knowing where he'd land -- but it makes a lot more sense from a financial standpoint; if he has a monster season, he can re-enter the free-agent market, when the market may bear higher salaries and more teams might be willing to take a chance on an aging catcher.
It probably won't happen, but hey, it might.
Despite discussion, internal debate and outlandish demands, the Red Sox never officially made an offer to their team captain, Jason Varitek. That all changed yesterday, when the Boston front office reportedly extended a one-year, $5 million contract that contains mutual options for a second year.
According to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, the second year options run for $5 million on the team's part and, if they decline, $3 million on Varitek's side. That makes for a maximum combined value of $10 million (assuming there are no hidden incentives that haven't been disclosed), a number which is all but assuredly less than the catcher would have received in arbitration with the team, and option he declined before Christmas.
But now there's an additional consideration complicating matters: The Red Sox' offer has a deadline.
Varitek met with team officials last week, but there's no word on whether that significantly helped clear the air. One thing is certain: Varitek has drastically misjudged the free agent market, and he's now stuck choosing between an offer that he clearly feels slightly insulted with or, equally drastic, no deal at all.
That's because no team -- yes, really no team -- outside of the Red Sox has expressed any interest in the catcher whatsoever. There was scuttlebutt early in the offseason that the Mets were interested in signing Varitek if they could trade incumbent backstop Brian Schneider to the Red Sox themselves. That rumor was quickly dispelled by Mets brass, and little has popped up about anyone else even considering his services, whether as a backup or starter.
Finally, this situation may represent a game of chicken between a Scott Boras client and a team that knows the market won't bear what he wants, where Boras himself may have to cave. Make no mistake, this isn't like last winter's Alex Rodriguez negotiations between the All-Star third baseman and the Yankees. That impasse was broken by A-Rod himself, who came clamoring back to the Yankees, notably without Boras by his side.
While Varitek has met with the Red Sox on his own, he has yet to stray from Boras' trust, and he refused to place any part of the blame for the duos apparent miscalculation in market demand on his agent.
So what's going to happen? Varitek wants at least two years at the terms he would have received in arbitration. He's coming off one of the worst hitting seasons in his career, batting .220, and he hasn't hit .280 or better since 2005. Put the numbers together, and there's no way Varitek is getting the deal he wants.
Will he take the deal he's been offered? He better, and quickly. There's never been more opportunity for the Red Sox to pull the trigger on a trade, with the Rangers making one of Jarrod Saltalamachia or Taylor Teagarden available again. The Red Sox love both those prospects, and they love Arizona's Miguel Montero, too. If Varitek doesn't sign by their deadline, look for them to move quickly on a trade.
If that happens, with Josh Bard already on the team's books, the Varitek era in Boston may be over, and there's no sign of where a new Varitek era might begin.
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