Jason Varitek Rumors

Cafardo On Oswalt, Angels, Bourjos, Rodriguez, Lowe

Here's a look at some highlights from today's column by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe..

  • One National League GM said that Roy Oswalt's desire to pitch closer to home has some teams wondering if the hurler might not be enthused about pitching this season.  "Everyone knows he has back issues, but the thing that bothered teams was that all of a sudden, he wanted to be closer to home and wanted to start picking and choosing where he wanted to be. A lot of people felt he lost that desire he used to have to pitch, and now we’re seeing him say, ‘Maybe I’ll show up somewhere around midseason and make just as much as I’d make if I signed now,'" said the GM. 
  • The Angels are unlikely to outright release Bobby Abreu as they owe him $9MM, but their efforts to deal him have been fruitless so far.   
  • Peter Bourjos, meanwhile, is still prominent on the Nationals’ wish list for center fielders, but the Angels want considerable value back if they deal him.   With Torii Hunter in the final year of his contract, there is room for the Halos to keep both Bourjos and Mike Trout.
  • Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will be a top "go get" guy before the deadline for teams needing an extra piece. Astros people remain surprised at the lack of interest in Rodriguez, even with the club willing to pick up about half the $36MM owed to him.
  • Indians pitcher Derek Lowe has strong interest in returning to the Red Sox after this season as a starter or reliever.  Cafardo writes that the veteran could have been an interesting solution as the BoSox's fourth or fifth starter, but picking up a large chunk his salary from the Braves didn't interest Boston.
  • Jason Varitek's friends still insist that he is leaning toward retirement as he can’t envision himself in a non-Red Sox uniform.  However, he feels that he can still play and at least be a backup catcher somewhere.

AL East Notes: Rays, Chavez, Varitek, Red Sox, Burnett

A look at some news out of the American League East..

  • It would make sense for the Rays to hold on to their surplus of starting pitching as they've needed at least seven starting pitchers in each of the past four seasons, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters that Eric Chavez's return isn't a sure thing, tweets Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
  • Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine isn't expecting Jason Varitek in camp today, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  The manager added that the front office hasn't asked them to get the catcher's uniform ready, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  On Friday, we learned that Varitek is leaning towards retirement.
  • There is some concern over the Red Sox's shortstop position in 2012 but Valentine told reporters that he was on board with the trade that shipped Marco Scutaro to Colorado, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).
  • Unloading A.J. Burnett's contract was a move that the Yankees had to make, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • The Burnett deal will likely be officially announced tomorrow, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Once the deal is official, the Yankees will have the money neccessary to sign another bat such as Raul Ibanez.
  • With an annual average of $2MM in his new three-year deal, Rays skipper Joe Maddon would rank in the middle third based on current contracts, writes Topkin.

Jason Varitek Leaning Towards Retirement

On the heels of Tim Wakefield's retirement, another key member of the Red Sox organization might be close to calling it a career.  At Wakefield's press conference earlier today, a friend of Jason Varitek said that the catcher is leaning towards retirement, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).

This morning, Varitek's agent Scott Boras maintained that his client hasn't made any decisions yet about playing in 2012.  The veteran has received interest from other clubs, but like Wakefield, it is believed that Varitek will decide between the Red Sox and retirement.

BoSox GM Ben Cherington said that he is leaving the ball in Varitek's court and the catcher is welcome to come to camp without a guaranteed roster spot, tweets Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal

Red Sox Notes: Varitek, Pitching, Trainers, Melancon

It was on this day in 1971 that the Red Sox signed Carl Yastrzemski to a three-year, $500K deal that was (at the time) the richest player contract in baseball history.  Fast-forward 40 years and the annual minimum salary for a Major League player in 2011 was $414K.

Here are some items about the modern-day Sox…

  • The 64-player roster released by the Red Sox yesterday is "most likely" not going to change as their Spring Training camp begins, a source tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.  This means that it is unlikely that the Sox will add free agents like Roy Oswalt or Jason Varitek to the mix.
  • Varitek has "not made any decisions yet" about playing in 2012, Varitek's agent Scott Boras tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).  In case you missed it, another longtime BoSox veteran will announce his retirement today, as Tim Wakefield is hanging up the glove after 19 Major League seasons.
  • The club's pitching woes have been caused by the lack of homegrown arms delivering over the last two seasons, says WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
  • Following last season's collapse and all of the subsequent front office changes, the Red Sox are entering their most uncertain Spring Training in years, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe
  • Also from Abraham, he looks at ten pressing questions facing the Red Sox heading into the 2012 campaign.
  • As part of a larger piece about team's offseason turnover, John Tomase of the Boston Herald notes that the Red Sox parted ways with their team doctor and strength coach from last season and also demoted trainer Mike Reinold.  "Tired of watching their multimillion dollar investments break down, the organization cleaned house on the medical and training side of things, with the hope that new blood will reach players who in many cases resisted pleas to improve their conditioning," Tomase writes.
  • Mark Melancon deserves an open shot at the closer's job, argues ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.  Melancon is currently expected to serve as a set-up man for another new acquisition, Andrew Bailey.

AL East Links: Wakefield, Varitek, Ross, Orioles

Pitchers and catchers for the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays are scheduled to report on February 18th, 19th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, respectively. Here's the latest from the AL East…

  • Both Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek have received interest from other teams, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says (on Twitter) that the two are expected to decided between the Red Sox or retirement. Boston has extended minor league offers to both players.
  • "This offseason was definitely tough," said new Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "There were a lot of teams I though would be interested that weren't. There were teams that were interested that I didn't think would be … I knew something was going to happen, and something good was going to come of it, and it did." 
  • MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko looked at all the turnover on the Orioles' 40-man roster this offseason. He counts 13 new players brought in from outside the organization. Check out our Transaction Tracker for a recap of all of Baltimore's moves under new GM Dan Duquette.

Lucchino On Payroll, Ortiz, Wakefield, Varitek

Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino appeared on SiriusXM Sports radio today to discuss a handful of topics, including payroll and David Ortiz's impending arbitration hearing. WEEI.com provided a transcript of his quotes, so let's dig in.

  • Not surprisingly, Lucchino scoffed at recent criticism that the Sox have been too frugal this offseason: Now, this year, if you want to talk specifically about 2012, we will have the highest payroll in the history of the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Will we eclipse the luxury tax threshold? To be sure, we will — once again. So I think the talk of us not spending needs to be viewed in the context of real facts and in comparisons to real dollars.
  • There will be no hard feelings against DH David Ortiz regarding his arbitration hearing, Lucchino said, adding that the sides will "move on" after the hearing barring an unforeseen settlement before then. Check out MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker for details on Ortiz's case.
  • Regarding outstanding offers of minor league contracts to Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek: "The decisions are now kind of in their hands as to what they’d like to do in this particular season.”
  • Lucchino has no regrets about signing Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142MM contract last offseason: "Don’t take a still photograph of year one of a seven-year deal and use it to conclude that the deal has been a success or been a failure."

Red Sox Notes: Oswalt, Wakefield, Varitek, Ortiz

Last year this time considerable hype surrounded the Red Sox, who had just traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford. Gonzalez and Crawford are still around, but the hype has disappeared. Here’s the latest on the Red Sox as they prepare for Spring Training 2012…

Red Sox Notes: Wakefield, Varitek, Kuroda, Pineda

Earlier today we learned that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington met with David Ortiz's agent on Friday to discuss Ortiz's 2012 salary.  The slugger earned $12.5MM last season and accepted Boston's arbitration offer back in December.  Here's more on the BoSox..

  • Manager Bobby Valentine told reporters that he "couldn't imagine" pitcher Tim Wakefield coming in and competing for a job, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  That assessment is in line with Cherington's comments last week which insinuated that the knuckleballer wouldn't be with the Red Sox in 2012.  Wakefield, 45, posted a 5.12 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 23 starts and 10 relief appearances for Boston last season.
  • Valentine also doesn't see catcher Jason Varitek making the Red Sox roster if he chooses to make a go at it in Spring Training, Lauber writes.   It was reported yesterday that the Sox offered the veteran a minor league deal, but apparently the club hasn't put anything formal on the table.
  • Bobby V also weighed in on the Yankees' most recent acquisitions, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, writes Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (quotes from Ian Browne).  Valentine seems wary of Kuroda's transition from a great pitcher's ballpark in the National League to a more hitter friendly ballpark in the American League.

Red Sox Offer Varitek Minor League Deal

5:31pm: Ben Cherington tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that the Red Sox have not made Varitek any kind of formal contract offer.

3:31pm: The Red Sox have offered Jason Varitek the chance to come to Spring Training and compete, but they aren’t offering the 39-year-old catcher a roster spot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Varitek seems likely to choose between accepting his longtime team’s invitation and retiring. If he does report to Spring Training, he’ll do so with the knowledge that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach are likely to break camp with the Red Sox.

Varitek, a Scott Boras client who earned $2MM in 2011, doesn’t appear to be seeking opportunities elsewhere, Heyman reports. The Red Sox would have interest in hiring Varitek for a non-playing role at some point, but it's not as though he's unable to produce at the Major League level. He posted a .221/.300/.423 line with 11 home runs in 250 plate appearances in 2011, though he stopped just 14% of stolen base attempts against him. "Our hope is that Tek will always be a part of the Red Sox in some way," GM Ben Cherington told reporters last month.

Heyman On Garza, Jackson, Varitek

The Yankees and Red Sox have approached the offseason with uncharacteristic restraint — at least so far. Freddy Garcia ($4MM deal with the Yankees) and Nick Punto ($3MM deal with the Red Sox) represent their most extravagant open market expenditures of the winter (though the Yankees did lock C.C. Sabathia up to an extension). Here’s the latest on the longtime American League rivals from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com: