After last year's disappointing playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in game seven of the ALCS, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox have been looking to strengthen the team for the upcoming season.
Throughout the offseason, the Red Sox have introduced many new faces, said goodbye to others, and even renewed others' contracts.
Some of these new faces include Brad Penny, Rocco Baldelli, John Smoltz, Ramon Ramirez, Mark Kotsay, and even Josh Bard, who's not so new (spent part of 2006 season with Boston). Unfortunately, they had to say goodbye to Coco Crisp and minor-leaguers David Pauley and David Aardsma, who got sent away in trades.
On the upside, they have resigned Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, and Javier Lopez to new deals. But there is one Boston icon who still hasn't sealed the deal.
Reportedly, the Red Sox offered Jason Varitek a one-year contract worth $5 million, with options for 2010. Varitek has been given until Friday to accept or reject this offer.
Varitek, who turns 37 on April 11th, is coming off of one of the the worst offensive seasons in his career. In 131 games, he batted .220 with 13 HR and only 43 RBI.
In his 12 season career, he has batted .263 with 161 HR and 654 RBI. He also has a career fielding percentage of .993.
The three-time MLB All-Star won two World Series titles with Boston (2004, 2007). Varitek has played on the Olympic Baseball team and in the World Baseball Classic. He also has won the Gold Glove award and the Silver Slugger award both in 2005.
What most may not know is that Varitek is one of only two players in Baseball history (besides Ed Vosberg) to have won a Little League World Series, a College World Series, and a Major League World Series. He also holds the record for catching the most MLB no-hitters, with four.
Going back to his contract, no one really knows if he will resign with the Red Sox or choose to part ways and find a new home. It would be more logical for him to stay in Boston for a couple reasons. One, he's going on 37 years old and most teams aren't going to find much potential in an aging catcher who is coming off the worst season of his career.
Two, he's spent his whole career in Boston, so it would make sense for him to finish off there.
Three, if he does choose to part ways, he's not going to find a team willing to pay him more or keep him for longer than the Red Sox.
If he chooses to stay, it is more than likely that Boston won't have him play more than 130 games so that they can try out their other options or younger prospects. With that being the case, he could be reduced to a backup role.
If he does not choose to stay, then the Red Sox have a few options. They could possibly try to make a trade with a decent team looking for a fair deal (possibly Jarrod Saltalamacchia), or they could look at the free agent market and try to sign someone. Remember Ivan Rodriguez is a free agent looking for a new team and who knows, he might be interested in signing with a championship-caliber team such as Boston.
It looks to me that no matter how it ends up working out, the Red Sox without a doubt will give New York a run for their money in the AL East and be a top contender in the American League.