The Showdown

Scott Boras held up Jorge Posada's contract as the ideal for Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek's next contract. The Red Sox have officially dismissed that ludicrous claim:

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox’ initial contract offer to free agent catcher Jason Varitek this offseason was for one year. It was not determined what the monetary worth of the offer would be, although indications were that it didn’t approach the annual average commanded by Jorge Posada ($13.1 million).

If the Red Sox offered, say, 1 year, $5-6 million, it could set the stage for a compromise agreement of 2/$16m that would free the Sox to acquire a young catcher who would essentially act as platoon partner/protege for Varitek as he winds his way toward a richly deserved retirement.

The ball is in Boras' — and Varitek's — court. Last time around, the Sox gave the soon-to-be Captain a contract everyone knew he did not deserve because he was deemed too vital to the team. No longer. It's Varitek's turn to decide how important his relationship to the Red Sox is. Which is why I think reasonable minds will find a resonable solution, even if Boras' initial demands were entirely unreasonable.

25 comments… add one
  • This sounds like the first step in the Sox kicking Varitek to the curb. I wonder who fills in?

    Sam-YF November 24, 2008, 10:11 am
  • Tek is too likely to spend a good chunk of time on the DL. The Sox should get him, but not for much.

    Kazz November 24, 2008, 10:20 am
  • Have any of these people even looked at Tek’s numbers for the last year?
    All fandom aside, he’s not one of the best ten catchers in the game.

    Robert November 24, 2008, 1:06 pm
  • Everyone knew he didn’t deserve his last contract? I can think of at least one person who would never admit to knowing that.

    FenSheaParkway November 24, 2008, 1:12 pm
  • according to Boras via the Globe, no offer has been made yet. Fan Graphs also has a post up that Dave Cameron authored, looking at the pitching splits a little bit. The conclusion -no conclusion.

    dw (sf) November 24, 2008, 2:21 pm
  • Everyone knew he didn’t deserve his last contract? I can think of at least one person who would never admit to knowing that.
    General consensus was that the Red Sox were wilingly overpaying for a contract that Varitek was extremely unlikely to be worth by years 3/4 of the deal.
    I think the Sox would willingly overpay again — but on the dollars this time instead of the years — because of Tek’s value for the pitching staff (whatever it may be) and as a mentor for whichever young catcher the Sox better be working toward acquiring.

    Paul SF November 24, 2008, 2:48 pm
  • I can’t see any other teams offering Varitek a contract especially considering that he is a type-A free agent. Who would give up a draft pick for him?

    Rob Abruzzese November 24, 2008, 9:57 pm
  • I wonder if Boras considered the fact that, although he’s a superior offensive player when healthy, the Yankees way overpaid for Posada, too.

    I'mBillMcNeal November 24, 2008, 11:03 pm
  • And although their most recent contracts were outrageous, considering that the market for catchers is so poor, who out there was better than Tek and Jo-Po?
    If you place a lot of stock in intangibles, the answer is no one.

    I'mBillMcNeal November 24, 2008, 11:05 pm
  • Also, you Red Sox fans, the Yawkey Way store,, is selling Jim Rice autographed baseballs at half price, for $50, through Nov. 26.
    If you just can’t resist this once-in-a-lifetime offer, use promotion code JBALL08 on the shopping cart page during checkout.
    Comes with a beautiful protective plastic case.
    (A Jim Rice autographed ball normally fetches $100? Really?)

    I'mBillMcNeal November 24, 2008, 11:12 pm
  • From the Chicago Tribune:
    Ozzie Guillen (love him or hate him) had this to say today about Nick Swisher:
    What about the disappointment of Swisher, who hit .191 after the All-Star Game?
    It was hard because when we brought him here, a lot of people were excited [that] he would have a great career with the White Sox, but we got to the point that we went through the roster … and we had a right fielder, left fielder, first baseman and DH. It was hard for us to find a place for him.
    Was Swisher a bad influence in the clubhouse late in the year?
    You’ve got to ask the players about that. To be honest with you, I was not happy with the way he was reacting at the end of the season. He wasn’t helping me either.

    I'mBillMcNeal November 24, 2008, 11:16 pm
  • I think I’ll have to take whatever is said by Ozzie Guillen with a big spoon of salt.
    He’s onery, vindictive, and most of the time he’s pretty ignorant, so for him to lash at a player isn’t groundbreaking information.
    In fact, I would have been more surprised if he didn’t take shots at him.

    Brad November 25, 2008, 8:14 am
  • Agreed Brad. Ozzie has zero credibility when it comes to comments on people he doesnt like or get along with. By all accounts Swisher is a good guy so hopefully his problems in Chicago were an isolated incident.

    Sam-YF November 25, 2008, 9:01 am
  • Bill McNeil, I smiled at your comment. Then cried. Then took a bracing shot of absinthe.
    There is no such thing as “overpaying” as far as agents, or for that matter, the union, is concerned. There is The Bar.
    CC Sabathia taking the Yankees’ offer would raise The Bar, so he is getting union pressure to take it for all players’ sake.
    Barry Zito’s ridiculous deal raised The Bar, allowing Boras to ask for “Zito money” for Derek Lowe. He doesn’t deserve it, but Zito didn’t deserve it either, so who’s to say he deserves it less than Zito?
    And, of course, Posada’s quickly devolving deal raised The Bar for old-ass catchers. The comparison just doesn’t hold up very well for ‘Tek because one came off a career year, the other off a nadir.
    So remember, it’s never wholly about the player. It’s about the player and whatever vague comparables can be drawn from other players. And The Bar. Always The Bar.

    Hit Dog November 25, 2008, 10:45 am
  • The problem with any platoon idea is that Francona may have a tough time benching Tek. He’s a PROVEN VETERAN [TM] after all.
    Varitek needs to be politely and tactfully shown the door. He is a 35-year-old catcher who already has had injury issues (2006) and entire years where he has struggled to make contact (06, 08). He’s not worth 2 years/$16 million; he’s barely worth a spring training invite.

    Andrew F. November 25, 2008, 1:25 pm
  • As far as Tek’s bat goes, he’s a stiff.
    But should we be so dismissive of him as a catcher? There is value to the defensive part of the job, as well as his ability to handle pitchers.

    I'm Bill McNeal November 25, 2008, 2:33 pm
  • I have read where it’s hard to value and measure a catcher’s defense/signal calling. Which I agree to. I think catching beckett, lester, dice will do wonders for the catchers winning % no matter who it is.
    In reality, he is offensively challenged, and isn’t throwing anyone out either. so he better be good at getting to pitches in the dirt (although he seemed to be having issues at the end of the year/playoffs with that) and calling a good game.

    dw (sf) November 25, 2008, 2:48 pm
  • Here are the catchers that can be had:
    Rod Barajas TOR
    Henry Blanco * CHC
    Johnny Estrada WAS
    Toby Hall * CWS
    Adam Melhuse TEX
    Mike Redmond * MIN
    Ivan Rodriguez NYY
    David Ross BOS
    Javier Valentin CIN
    Vance Wilson DET
    Gregg Zaun * TOR
    That of course doesn’t count internal options and trades.
    Now, I understand Tek’s offense has declined and that at times he is a below average hitting catcher, completely get it. The problem the Sox are having is the same problem the Yankees had a last off season. (To some degree because while Tek and Posada are old, at least Posada can still, at the very least contribute with the stick) There are very few catchers that can both hit and field. The ones that can do both are locked up or would come at a premium to obtain. I think as long as the Sox think Tek can still be solid defensively they should sign him. Do not worry about public perception. Only they know how much value Tek adds to their team and how much he has left. I don’t love Posada’s contract, don’t get me wrong, but look at the other options that were there last season. Tek knows his pitching staff, they are comfortable with him, he knows his ballpark, his teammates love him, these are qualities you can’t get from another free agent. With the amount of offense the Sox will get at other positions Varitek’s offensive contributions are really not important if you can make up for it in other places. The key to all of this is what the Sox FO thinks. Do they think he has 2 more seasons? 3 more seasons? or even just 1 more season of value. The catcher brings so many intangibles to the game that I truly believe this is the one position that they can afford to overpay for.
    As for a trade…I don’t think it’s worth it. Unless the Sox truly feel they have no options internally that will pan out over the next few seasons. Why trade valuable young arms or sticks for a catcher? Joe Mauer, Russell Martin, sure I would move value for them, but for Salty? No way. The one guy who I haven’t heard mentioned is Brian Schneider, he is a perfect fit the Sox needs. I don’t know that the Mets would move him, but I would venture to guess that he isn’t untouchable and he might come at a reasonable value considering the Mets bullpen and SP issues.
    These are my honest thoughts, I am not saying this because it’s the Sox and I want them to fail (even though I do) it’s just how I feel.

    John - YF November 25, 2008, 3:24 pm
  • It’s hard to analyze signal-calling in terms of runs saved, but there are studies (I’ll look up the link in a bit) where it’s shown that it’s not that significant, and placed an absolute upper bound on how high it was. But basically, all but the weakest hitting catchers trumpts this value with the stick.

    Lar November 25, 2008, 5:39 pm
  • Pitchers are odd creatures. What Tek brings to his team may not be able to be measured in numbers. I don’t know how Sox pichers feel nor do I know how the FO feels but in my opinion as an outsider his value has to be greater to his team than any possible FA catcher. As long as he isn’t blocking a younger, more talented player or hurting the teams chemistry I say go for it. Unless of course Adam Melhuse floats your boat.

    John - YF November 25, 2008, 5:47 pm
  • John’s comment/s is/are very astute.
    I have loathed watching Tek at the plate for a long while. I’ve been a huge detractor. But in the end I am not sure that the Sox shouldn’t bring him back. If they can engineer a Teixeira acquisition and Ortiz isn’t completely done their offense should be ok even with the hole in the lineup. I just don’t see great options out there barring a trade, which the Sox would be foolish to not explore, at the least. I would be reluctantly in favor of a Tek return for a year or two. Boras may not be interested in that, though.

    SF November 25, 2008, 6:10 pm
  • As a big mocker of intangibles, even I have to agree with John that in some cases, you have to question whether numbers can accurately gauge a player’s value. And that’s an EXTREMELY LIMITED number of cases, limited particularly to an extremely limited number of positions. Catcher, as the position that comes in contact with the second-most number of baseballs in every single game, certainly would seem to be a position where a player’s value isn’t accurately captured simply by his offensive stats or caught-stealing percentage.
    At this juncture, I have to plead ignorance nd trust the Red Sox know what they’re doing. They know Varitek’s value better than any of us, and over the years, they’v certainly earned my trust when it comes to evaluating player value.

    Paul SF November 26, 2008, 12:42 am
  • I don’t think I used the word “limited” enough in that comment.

    Paul SF November 26, 2008, 12:43 am
    Hey RSN, enjoy the second coming of Kei Igawa
    lucky for you guys he will wash out in the minors instead of failing epically in the majors for your team~

    doug YF November 29, 2008, 3:19 am
  • if you’re able to look past the whole thing about one making an 8th of the other guy, they’re basically the same dude destined for the same exact career path.

    sf rod November 29, 2008, 10:56 pm

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