The Boston Red Sox have answered all the many questions surrounding their 2011 catching platoon by re-signing Jason Varitek today to a one-year, $2 million deal, according to multiple sports writers, including SI's Jon Heyman.
That is, the signing answers the question of who will tag-team the Fenway dish along with the young Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As late as this morning, speculation ran rampant that the Sox might trade for the Dodgers' Russell Martin, a non-tender candidate with high upside and an injury history.
Re-upping Varitek all but forces the Dodgers' hand regarding Martin.
With the non-tender deadline looming this evening, the Dodgers might have hoped to deal the over-priced Martin to the likes of Boston sometime today and avoid offering him arbitration. The Sox are one of the few teams with a need and the resources to potentially waste $4 million or more on the two-time all-star.
That rumor can probably now be put safely to rest. Varitek's knowledge of the Boston pitching staff and his ability to mentor Saltalamacchia make him perhaps the wisest choice for 2011.
Although Varitek will turn 39 next April 11, the catcher demonstrated significant pop during an injury shortened 2010 campaign. Over just 123 plate appearances, Varitek homered seven times and posted a .766 OPS.
Interestingly, the switch-hitting veteran was remarkably more comfortable against right-handers in the friendly confines of Fenway Park during the 2010 season, and, in fact, Varitek hasn't hit well during away games since 2007.
Odds are the Red Sox will chose to play Varitek mostly at Fenway against right-handed pitchers, which unfortunately doesn't match well with Saltalamacchia's strengths and weaknesses. Saltalamacchia is a career .273 hitter against righties, but he's hit only .207 against southpaws.
With Victor Martinez departed for Detroit, the catching situation in Boston should be an adventure in 2011. Varitek has thrown out just 24 percent of base stealers in his career and Saltalamacchia has managed only 20 percent.
In this writer's opinion, Boston could very likely be trading for a backstop by mid May.
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