A report circulated last week indicating that the Red Sox had extended a one-year offer to Jason Varitek; his agent Scott Boras later denied the report, saying that negotiations with Boston's front office had yet to begin. Was Boras telling the truth? Come midnight tonight, it won't really matter.
All major league teams have until midnight to decide whether they want to offer arbitration to their free agents, and MLB.com's Ian Browne reports that it's "near a given" that the Red Sox will do so to Varitek. Should Varitek accept the offer, he'd sign a one-year deal likely worth slightly more than last year's $10.4 million salary; should he refuse, any team that signs him will have to cough up a pair of draft picks as compensation.
Up to this point, Boras has insisted that Varitek deserves a contract in the neighborhood of the four-year, $52.4 million deal signed by Jorge Posada last winter, which makes it unlikely that he'd suddenly cave and accept a one-year deal through arbitration.
Either way, though, it's a win-win situation for the Sox: if he stays, they get a low-risk chance to see if their captain is as washed up as he looked last year; if he leaves, they get a chance to add a couple of prospects to the farm.
Considering Varitek hit just .220 with a dismal 73 OPS+, couldn't Varitek accept a one-year deal now in hopes of re-building his value for next winter? That wouldn't be a bad idea ... if only 'Tek were five years younger. Unfortunately he turns 37 in April, meaning the next time he signs on the dotted line will likely be his last.
Boras says Varitek is worth the gamble and will bounce back, but considering Varitek looked more like Brad Ausmus than Carlton Fisk last year, that's a huge leap of faith, and not the basis most responsible general managers would use to justify a multi-year offer.