The Red Sox have been among the most active teams in free agency since the calendar turned to 2009, inking the likes of Takashi Saito, John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay to deals in the new year. Those are good signings for an organization as deep as the Red Sox, but a major hole at catcher remains on the big league roster.
Boston has already signed Josh Bard to a non-guaranteed deal this winter, but unless it is willing to hand a significant portion of the catching duties to an untested backstop like Dusty Brown or George Kottaras.
Longtime catcher and team captain Jason Varitek is still a free agent, but, at least for now, the Red Sox seemed resolved to pursue other options in an effort to get younger behind the dish.
Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe writes that the Diamondbacks and Red Sox "feel there is a fit" between the two clubs. Arizona is considering dealing young Miguel Montero, with Chris Snyder entrenched as the starting catcher after receiving a contract extension this winter.
The devil is in the details, of course, and the Sox still need to find the right package to pry Montero from the D'backs.
According to one major league source, the Diamondbacks are seeking only a comparable prospect in return -- a pitcher or a positional player -- but the sides have yet to identify a comparable talent that would make the deal work for both sides.
The key here, if you read between the lines, is that Arizona's asking price for a catcher seems to be more in line with what Boston is willing to give up. The Red Sox are rumored to be interested in one of Texas' trio of young catchers -- Jarod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden or Max Ramirez -- but the Rangers have repeatedly asked for Clay Buchholz in any deal. Buchholz seems off limits unless the Red Sox could net a star-caliber player (read: not Montero, Saltalamacchia or Teagarden).
Where would that leave Varitek? This might seem grim, but possibly out of a job entirely. He certainly wouldn't be able to return to the Red Sox if Montero wound up in Boston, and there's hardly been a peep about him elsewhere, likely because it will cost a first-round draft pick just to sign him.
You almost have to feel bad for Varitek, who has given his heart and soul to the Red Sox, and, by all accounts, is the consummate team player and clubhouse leader. In fact, you do until you remember that Scott Boras is his agent, and that both he and Boras decided not to accept Boston's arbitration offer last month. Had they accepted it, Varitek would have been a virtual lock to make $7-10 million next year. Sure, it would have be a one-year deal, but 'Tek will be lucky to get anything in that vicinity now.