Free Agent Stock Watch: Jason Varitek

Jason Varitek won't sign another $40MM deal, but his chances in free agency are looking much better than they were a couple months ago. Let's face it: few of us imagined that Varitek's slugging percentage would exceed Victor Martinez's on base plus slugging this far into the season. Varitek's six homers give him a .342/.419/.868 line, but be warned: Varitek has only batted 43 times.

Martinez and Varitek share more than Boston's catching duties. Both are headed for free agency and both stand to gain or lose a considerable amount depending on their play in the next four and a half months. Varitek's fly ball percentage (66%) and home run to fly ball ratio (33%) are not at all sustainable, so that .868 slugging percentage will probably be halved by the end of the season. Still – no one can take Varitek's hot start away from him, even if no one expects him to sustain it. 

Given the two-year deals Jason Kendall, Ivan Rodriguez and Brian Schneider signed last offseason, it appears that teams are willing to pay a premium for veteran catchers. With Scott Boras by his side and Joe Mauer off of the market, Varitek could ask for a multi-year deal if he keeps his walk rate around his career average, maintains some power and throws out more than the occasional baserunner. That's a challenge for any catcher, let alone a 38-year-old, but let's not count Varitek out.

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38 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Jason Varitek Leave a Reply

  1. Rich G 5 years ago

    Well the thing is, Varitek literally plays every other game or two games after Martinez does. So he has plenty of rest and time to watch the game and know what he is gonna get at the plate. Honestly, he is a KEY-ASSET to the Red Sox Organization with the team and not just the pitchers. Yes, he has caught many no-hitters but he works with Victor daily to call games the way he sees them. I would love to see him a management / coach role for the Red Sox down the road.

    • ReverendBlack 5 years ago

      I’d rather pay him a million to take a coaching role than to come off the bench.

  2. johnbuckformvp 5 years ago

    Varitek= worst catcher in the game.
    Boston should resign V-Mart and then sign John Buck

    • jwredsox 5 years ago


    • ELPinchy 5 years ago


  3. pmc765 5 years ago

    If he doesn’t fade much through this season, the Sox would presumably entertain bringing him back. But logically they would want to limit the commitment to one year.

    So why can’t the team just offer him arbitration again? We know how that went last time…would Varitek and Boras turn it down again? The Sox would be willing to pay him a decent rate for one year, but would be leery of any two year deal.

    If Varitek/Boras turn down arb again, the other 29 GMs will find this particular Boras client easy to resist. Then Varitek joins the parade of prematurely unemployed clients.

  4. ZeroZeroZero 5 years ago

    Unlike Kendall and Rodriguez, Varitek is completely useless behind the plate so he offers no value defensively. He is hitting at the moment but pretty much hasnt hit at all in the last 3 or so years. Scott Boras will try and sell it but I cant see anybody giving him any deal worth being real proud of.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Not sure about pudge this year but he was pretty bad behind the plate last year. You can’t say he is better than Varitek defensively.

  5. Yankees420 5 years ago

    I can’t see Varitek getting a 2 year deal from anyone during the offseason, although I couldn’t see Kendall, Schneider, and Pudge getting 2 year deals either so maybe he can get something like 2/6.

  6. plaverty24 5 years ago

    Let’s just calm down a little on Varitek. What he’s doing isn’t unprecedented.

    April 2009: 4 HR .348 OBP .533 SLG .881 OPS
    May 2009: 6 HR .311 OBP .513 SLG .824 OPS

    Then the fall off the precipice. He hit 4 HR over the remainder of the season.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      but that was as a full time catcher for the first half. Big difference in how fresh he is at the end of the season when he is a backup rather than everyday starter.

  7. BoSoxSam 5 years ago

    I love V-Tek, and clearly this extra rest is helping his bat. Plus, it seems to me like a lot of our pitchers look more comfortable when he’s behind the plate. I think it would definitely be in the Red Sox best interest, if V-Tek is still okay with a backup role, to bring him back as a backup catcher. Sure, he’s not the best defensively, and sure this hot start is going to eventually slow down. But his knees are going to deal with much less wear and tear with a backup role, meaning he can possibly improve his defense from the last couple full years he’s played, and he’s a superb game caller who knows these pitchers better than anyone. Whether or not V-Mart returns, I really really hope Varitek does. Also, disregarding his quality as a player, I simply want Varitek (and Wakefield) to retire as Red Sox. The Yanks have Jeter and Mo as guys they will never give up to FA, and I consider Wake and Varitek to be the two guys for the Sox I really hope they let retire with Boston.

  8. I don’t see Tek signing any deal past one year unless he can show that his arm is in better shape. Sure, there’s an organizational philosophy about letting the pitchers pitch and not worrying about baserunners. But even with that said, his SB allowed percentage is horrible- simply horrible. If he could even get back into even Posada territory he would be okay, but right now is pretty unacceptable.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      here’s an idea. Varitek can think more about his percentage rather than the pitchers and call more fastballs with runners on. That’s what pudge used to do. Let the guy call a good game 2-3 times a week, get his mind off throwing, and he’ll get 2 years. Throwing out baserunners is of little concern for a backup.

      • R_y_a_n 5 years ago

        “Throwing out baserunners is of little concern for a backup”.

        Why? If anything, team’s look for a better defensive catcher – one that can throw runners out.

  9. To woadude Varitek is menatlly senile. The only reason he has that “C” on his jersey is to tell him which position to field! Dedicated Yankees fan! 😛

  10. Rich G 5 years ago

    Strasburg with Varitek, = new Roger Clemens of 2010.

    Sounds awesome and scary to NL teams.

  11. Yankees420 5 years ago

    Why would the Nats want Varitek and Pudge on the team at the same time?

  12. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    “the nationals could use him to get on page with strasburg”

    il take pudge rodriguez over jason varitek any day, every day.

  13. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    Sounds delightful to NL teams with anybody who can run faster than Prince Fielder.

    That said, I really like Varitek and agree his knowledge would be very valuable to any pitcher, young or old.

  14. jwredsox 5 years ago

    except for the fact you also have to take into account pitchers, because Beckett isn’t that quick to the plate I know and, besides lester, none are that good at holding runners on. It isn’t all V-tek and V-mart

  15. brewersnrays 5 years ago

    What’s with everyone hating on Prince’s speed? THE MAN HAS HIT TWO INSIDE THE PARK HOME RUNS! Haven’t you ever seen his high socks? that’s how you know he’s fast.


  16. ellisburks 5 years ago

    Maybe they should give him speed holes too. With them and the high socks he will be faster than light!

  17. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    I resemble that remark. To wit, the only ESPN programming I can tolerate is Baseball Tonight. If Sports Center is ever on, it gets muted.

  18. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    No, not “except for” that. Accounting for that.

    He’s a very savvy defensive catcher around the plate, one of the best blockers I’ve seen, but definitely well below average at throwing out runners. If his bat could be counted on, he’d still be quite valuable. But no. It’s a pleasant surprise that he’s become a very strong backup.

  19. jwredsox 5 years ago

    Pudge also used to call almost all fastballs when runners were on base to help that percentage. I’d rather have a guy who calls for his team > a guy who only helps himself

  20. jwredsox 5 years ago

    When his former pitchers say that, I believe it.

  21. johnsilver 5 years ago

    i really appreciate the sarcasm there with fielder and his lack of speed.. To add a point on inside the park HR’s and people who can accumulate them, Billy Buckner’s last career HR was in 1990 for Boston and that was when the guy could barely walk, much less run, so just because a guy get’s an inside the park job, sure does not add up to speed.

    Spot on with all this talk of varitek getting some kind of large reward contract multi year wise from anyone. think the entire league has seen enough of him these last 2 1/2 years to realize how toast he is with everything except for game calling and as was mentioned above, blocking balls and only then when he has not been worn down.

    Francona decides to play him for a month straight, then his bat will turn to crap again and this foolishness will cease.

  22. jwredsox 5 years ago

    teams know it. Detroit traded him because of their concern over how he increasingly called fastballs to the wrong hitters at the wrong time (especially when runners were on base). This isn’t an opinion it is a fact. “The reality is he never really was very good at calling a game. Been criticized most of his career. If there’s a guy on, he’s going to put the one finger down. You’re going to get a fastball, because he ain’t gonna let that guy steal the base late in the career.” – Jim Bowden, Former Nationals GM

  23. R_y_a_n 5 years ago

    Former GM. A reason why. Also one of the worst baseball minds to ever enter the game.

    I’m with metsville…you’re a bit delusional on this subject.

  24. brewersnrays 5 years ago


  25. jwredsox 5 years ago

    that former GM knows more than you’ll ever know about the game and has more access to the scouting reports, statistics, and personnel the casual fan doesn’t have access to. I’d listen to the former GM of the Royals before I listen to the casual fan.

  26. R_y_a_n 5 years ago

    Whatever dude. You want to believe Jim Bowden just because he backs your argument, go for it. He is, as I said, one of the worst baseball minds to ever be in the game.

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