Jason Varitek Rumors

Cafardo On Hamels, Soriano, Red Sox

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe credits Phillies GM Ruben Amaro for his offseason signing of Aaron Harang.  The veteran right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball through the first month of the season after coming to Philly on an affordable one-year, $5MM deal (Harang spoke with MLBTR last month about joining the Phillies).  While it’s been tough for Amaro to find the right deal for Cole Hamels, a few more good starts may net him a prospect for Harang.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • There have been no calls on Hamels regarding a trade since the last week of March, a Phillies source tells Cafardo.  Recently, Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote that rival evaluators believe the pitcher wants out of Philadelphia.  Through four starts this season, Hamels has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
  • Rafael Soriano has returned to the Dominican Republic for workouts as he awaits an MLB opportunity.  We learned yesterday that the Twins are among the teams interested in Soriano. The Tigers and Blue Jays would also make sense as potential landing spots for the reliever. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently reported that there has been contact between agent Scott Boras and the Mariners regarding Soriano and the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers could be “logical suitors.”
  • The Red Sox have received kudos from around baseball for signing right-hander Alexi Ogando as a free agent and many teams are now kicking themselves over not signing him. “They’ve used him so well at the beginning of the season, biting off as much as he can chew and slowly but surely increasing to high-leverage situations,” said one National League scout. “He’s got some real action on his fastball and electric stuff at times. He’ll occasionally leave a pitch over the plate, but this is like a bonus guy. A lot of teams missed the boat and the Red Sox were one of the few teams willing to offer a major league deal.”
  • When asked if he’d ever want to be a manager, Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek told Cafardo, “Maybe someday. Not right now.”  Varitek wants to watch his kids grow up before possibly pursuing such a role.

Gammons’ Latest: Braves, Sandoval, Monfort, Tomas, Padres

Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons appeared on MLBN’s High Heat yesterday (video link) and published a full notes column today, both of which have plenty of excellent information. Here are some highlights from Gammons’ latest work…

  • While Braves GM Frank Wren did well to patch their rotation with Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang this season, the team’s offense has been woeful, and Wren has the Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton contracts weighing on him. Former Indians GM John Hart, who was brought on as a senior advisor last offseason, could be moved into a more significant role, such as a president of baseball operations (like Theo Epstein in Chicago) or a chief baseball officer like Tony La Russa in Arizona. Hart served as an overseer to Jon Daniels in Texas, and the Braves do have a prime young GM candidate in the form of John Coppolella.
  • Gammons thinks that Pablo Sandoval‘s days as a member of the Giants are numbered. Sandoval will be one of baseball’s most sought-after free agents this offseason, and the Marlins and Red Sox are both “very interested,” according to Gammons. “The Giants, I don’t think have any chance of re-signing him,” he adds.
  • The Rockies had a July deal agreed to that would have sent Jorge De La Rosa to the Orioles in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort nixed the trade. De La Rosa was eventually extended on a two-year, $25MM deal, while Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Andrew Miller. Gammons uses this story as a means of illustrating Monfort’s fierce loyalty — a trait that makes him an enigma even to the Rockies’ own employees. No one in Colorado is quite sure what Monfort will do this offseason, Gammons writes, though trying to pluck former Rockies assistant Thad Levine from the Rangers, where he is currently an assistant GM, is one scenario on which he speculates.
  • At least two dozen teams will be on hand to see Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase in the Dominican Republic this weekend, and Gammons hears that the early front-runners to sign him are the Giants, Phillies, Padres, Rangers and Tigers. All of that, of course, could change quickly following his showcase. The Padres might seem a curious fit there, given the team’s typically tight payroll, but I’d imagine that the international focus of new GM A.J. Preller might be a factor.
  • While the common belief is that Padres manager Bud Black is safe even with the GM change, one person who interviewed for the position told Gammons that he was asked by CEO Mike Dee how he felt about the possibility of Jason Varitek coming on board as the team’s new skipper. Dee, as Gammons notes, is quite familiar with Varitek and his leadership from their days together in Boston. This isn’t the first time that Varitek’s name was connected to the Padres.

Managerial Notes: Francona, Indians, Varitek

Soon after the Indians dismissed Manny Acta yesterday afternoon, it was reported that former MLB player Sandy Alomar Jr. is favored to obtain the permanent managerial position in Cleveland. Terry Francona, another candidate for the job, has already had some contact with the Indians. Here are today's managerial links…

  • Francona confirmed that he's interested in managing the Indians and that he plans to interview for the position at some point, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter links). "I wouldn't come in and interview if I wasn't [interested]," Francona said.
  • There’s mutual interest between Francona and the Indians, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (Twitter link). Gammons points out that a peaceful, understanding environment may be more important than money to Francona, whose tenure in Boston ended poorly. The sides will have a better sense of how to proceed after the weekend, Gammons writes.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio that Francona and Alomar are the only two candidates that the team is "publicly acknowledging at this point" (Twitter link).
  • Jason Varitek joined the Red Sox as a special assistant, but declined to speculate about his future as an MLB manager. “I'm not in a position to make that a 'yes' or 'no' at this point,” he told reporters, including Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link).


Managerial Notes: Guillen, Valentine, Varitek, Rockies

The 2012 regular season ends one week from today, and a slew of front office and coaching staff changes are sure to follow. It happens every year. Here's the latest managerial news from around the game…

  • The job of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen "appears to be in serious peril," reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest appears safe, however.
  • "We've talked – not about that … Which makes me think I'm coming back," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to WEEI.com's Alex Speier when asked if ownership has given him any indications about next year (Twitter link).
  • While the Red Sox and Jason Varitek are discussing a role in the organization, they are not talking about the manager's position according to Heyman.
  • Heyman hears that the Rockies plan to discuss their managerial position even though Jim Tracy agreed to an "indefinite" contract earlier this year. The club makes is sound like he is safe for the time being, however.

Red Sox Notes: Varitek, Pedro, Lester

The Red Sox now have a 69-86 record, which means they’re at risk of losing 90 games for the first time in 46 years. The last time they reached the 90-loss threshold, back in 1966, Ben Cherington hadn’t been born, Bobby Valentine was in high school, and Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro roamed the Fenway Park outfield. Here’s the latest from Boston…

  • The roles that the Red Sox envision for Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez “will not be ceremonial,” Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter). Gammons cites Padres executives Trevor Hoffman and Brad Ausmus as possible parallels for the Red Sox.
  • Varitek is "close" to returning to the Red Sox organization. He will likely return as a special assistant to Cherington, Gordon Edes reported yesterday. The switch-hitting 40-year-old retired this spring.
  • Jon Lester discussed the team's "nightmare" year with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, saying he's looking forward to forgetting about baseball for a while once the season ends. "The offseason for a lot of people hopefully is going to do good," Lester said.

Quick Hits: Baker, Varitek, LaHair, Padres, Berkman

Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke on Friday, the team told reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon).  Baker was already in hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat and was supposed to be released on Friday.  The 63-year-old was released instead on Sunday and is reportedly in good condition, addressing the Reds clubhouse this afternoon.  Bench coach Chris Speier has managed the team in Baker's absence and will continue to do so at least through Cincinnati's weekend series with the Pirates, though Baker is hopeful of returning for the Reds' final series of the year.

Here's some more news from around the baseball world…


Quick Hits: Varitek, D’Backs, Trumbo, Suppan, Braves

Here's a look at some items from around the league on this Friday evening..

  • Catcher Jason Varitek hopes to remain with the Red Sox in some capacity, but it may take him some time to determine an appropriate role, writes Jerry Spar of WEEI.com.
  • When Kevin Towers was asked specifically about extensions for Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks GM didn’t nix the idea, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.  Towers hasn’t talked to the agents for either player yet but suggested that he might feel them out to see if there is interest in a long-term deal.
  • The Angels' Mark Trumbo has been the subject of trade rumors for the bulk of the offseason, but the slugger appears to be settling in at third base nicely, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.  A January poll showed that MLBTR readers think that the Halos should look to deal Kendrys Morales before Trumbo.
  • Jeff Suppan wants to pitch for as long as he can, but isn't yet sure if that will extend beyond 2012, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The veteran inked a minor league deal with the Padres this winter.
  • Craig Kimbrel’s salary is the highest ever for a Braves player with less than two years of service time but the pitcher is well worth it, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Winning the National League Rookie of the Year and receiving votes for Cy Young and Rolaids Relief Man awards took Kimbrel’s salary from $419K in 2011 to $590K in 2012.

Quick Hits: Axford, Dodgers, Varitek, Drew, Rangers

On this date in 1993, the Expos signed Vladimir Guerrero as an 18-year-old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He reached the big leagues three years later and went on to hit .318/.379/.553 during his Hall of Fame caliber career. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • John Axford told Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel that he'll have to sign a one-year contract for now, but would very much like to get a multi-year extension done with the Brewers. Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Axford's extension case earlier today.
  • Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson told Anthony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles that the team is working to sign one player from their tryout camp (all Twitter links). Doug Davis and Minnesota Vikings free safety Jarrad Page were among those at the open tryout today. The player will report to minor league camp once signed.
  • Scott Boras told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that he "really didn't let" other teams make offers to the now-retired Jason Varitek. "We didn't want to mislead anybody that he wasn't going to play for them," Boras said of the long-time Red Sox.
  • "He's just home," said Boras to reporters (including Bradford) about J.D. Drew. "He hasn't announced anything, but he's there. He hasn't made any decisions. He's home." We heard Drew was "very likely" to retire back in January.
  • The Rangers payroll is approaching $127MM, but president and CEO Nolan Ryan told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News that they won't be forced to dump any salary before the season.
  • Omar Vizquel understands that he has to win a spot on the Blue Jays roster in Spring Training, but he told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that he doesn't understand why more older players don't do try to do the same. "It's weird to see all these guys retire, and I'm still on the field," said the 44-year-old.

AL East Notes: Varitek, Ramirez, Hughes

The AL East included four of the junior circuit's eight 80-win teams a year ago, and you could make the argument that the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays are just as strong entering the 2012 campaign. The latest links from the division…

  • As Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains, the Red Sox didn't realize they had obtained two future All-Stars when they sent reliever Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997. Speier passes along quotes from Dan Duquette, scout Gary Rajsich and Lowe in this look back at the franchise-altering deal. Rajsich considered Lowe a future above-average setup man at the time.  Even then, the scout thought Varitek could be a frontline starting catcher. 
  • Duquette explained to Speier that Manny Ramirez wasn't a fit for the Orioles this winter. "I thought since I was so generous with Manny last time around, he should have paid me this time around. He didn’t quite see it that way," Duquette quipped, making reference to the slugger's eight-year, $160MM contract with the Red Sox.
  • Duquette also discussed the Varitek-Lowe deal in detail.
  • The Yankees say there's a competition between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the final spot in their rotation, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the competition is essentially rigged. Hughes will win if the competition is close, and Garcia will head to the bullpen unless a starter gets injured.

Jason Varitek To Retire

Fifteen seasons and two World Championships later, Jason Varitek is calling it a career. The 39-year-old catcher will announce his retirement in Fort Myers this Thursday, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Varitek is expected to remain involved with the Red Sox organization.

Jason Varitek - Red Sox

Varitek, Boston's longtime captain, was a key member of the 2004 and 2007 World Series winners. He caught four no-hitters in his career — one each by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Hideo Nomo and Derek Lowe. The Red Sox acquired Lowe and Varitek from the Mariners for Heathcliff Slocumb in a fateful 1997 trade. Seattle had selected the switch-hitter with the 14th pick in the 1997 draft.

Varitek made three All-Star teams and picked up MVP votes each year from 2003-05. His career slash line reads .256/.341/.435 and he'll retire with 193 home runs. He earned over $67MM in his career, according to Baseball-Reference.

The Red Sox, who had interest in re-signing Varitek to a minor league deal, will employ Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate this year. Interestingly, Varitek and longtime rival Jorge Posada retired during the same offseason.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.