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Friday, January 30, 2009

  Deal Done

According to the Boston Herald:

Varitek, who turns 37 in April, will receive $5 million in 2009. The club holds a $5 million option for 2010 and if it declines, Varitek can exercise a $3 million option of his own or become a free agent. The presence of the player option technically makes the contract a two-year deal in the eyes of the union.

Varitek also has $2 million in performance bonuses that he can earn in 2010 if he catches 120 games, but they are only attached to his player option.

This sounds like what has reportedly been on the table, so I'm not sure what took so long. It's possible that the two sides were quibbling over the little extras that get thrown into a contract, such as travel perks and other seemingly inconsequential details.


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  Tek Talks Continue

The Globe's Tony Massarotti reports that the Jason Varitek negotiation isn't over just yet.

According to a baseball source earlier this week, the Sox composed the letter to Varitek last Thursday, Jan. 22, and sent it to the player and his agent, Scott Boras, by registered mail. According to another baseball source yesterday, the letter was delivered to the player and his agent at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, and gave the player one week to reply, a precise deadline the team intended to enforce at a moment when negotiations appeared most tense.

Late last night and this morning, the same source indicated that the sides expected to go into the late morning and early afternoon in hopes of resolving the matter. Boras, who is based on the West Coast, is expected to contact club officials today to accept or decline the offer.

The burning question is what the team's "Plan B" is (you know they have one) in case this doesn't get done. Pitchers and catchers report in 13 days, and as things stand now it would be pitchers and catcher, as Josh Bard is the only one they have who anyone expects would be a regular on the major league roster. The current 40-player roster also includes minor leaguers Dusty Brown and George Kottaras, the latter of whom had a short stint with the parent club, and a 24-year-old I've never heard of named Mark Wagner.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

he signed he signed. thats at least one happy fan here.

  The Clock Is Ticking on Varitek

With the team-imposed deadline on the Sox' contract offer to Jason Varitek come and gone (on the east coast, at least), yesterday's breaking news looms large:

According to a baseball source [ . . . ] Varitek is seriously considering the option of sitting out the 2009 season and/or retiring rather than accepting the contract offer made to him last week.

[ . . . ]

Though Varitek appears to have no other suitors at this time, it would not be unprecedented for him to sit out until he receives an offer to his liking. With agent Scott Boras advising him, Varitek opted to return to Georgia Tech for his senior year after being drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins in 1993. He re-entered the draft and was selected in the first round by the Seattle Mariners in June 1994, then signed with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League because he could not come to terms with the Mariners.

Varitek never actually played for the Saints and eventually signed with the Mariners in April 1995, but he lost almost a full year of development.

The risk now seems to be even greater, since the captain's marketability is already low. It's hard to see what he stands to gain by waiting until he is even older than he is now, potentially out of shape, and less familiar than other catchers with the league's new hitters. By playing, at least he has the potential to show that he still can play.

The offer on the table may not be for long years or big money (not that $5 million isn't big money to most of us, but that's another discussion), but it is guaranteed money. It's also, in essence, a guaranteed two years in that the second year is a dual option which can be exercised by either the team or the player. So even if Varitek has another dismal year, he can still pick up the option to play—and earn millions—for one more year. Indeed, the only potential downside for Tek is if he were to have a bang-up season in 2009 and then have the Sox pick up the option year, denying him the chance to give free agency another try.

But on the larger issue of Scott Boras' apparent advice to his client, Varitek has already been screwed by Boras, who advised against accepting the team's offer of salary arbitration so he could get more via free agency. That hasn't worked out so well. Neither will this latest ploy, if Varitek is foolish enough to go along with it.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

  Paps Inked for 1-Year Deal

Alerted by a WEEI Flash text message I just read, I am somewhat happy to pass along an Associated Press story that the Red Sox and closer Jonathan Papelbon have agreed to a one-year contract for $6,250,000 to avoid salary arbitration.

On the up side, the news renders obsolete a report filed less than an hour ago by the Boston Herald's Sean McAdam saying that arbitration may be imminent.

The negative is that the deal signals something of an impasse between the two parties, who had reportedly been working on a long-term deal to lock in Papelbon in similar fashion as they have sewn up Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis this off-season. One wonders what Papelbon is looking for, and if it's more than the relatively modest (for pro ballplayers, that is) numbers last year's MVP and second runner-up got.

Papelbon sometimes gives me the impression that he is a little too big for his britches, that his ego may get in the way of his making a reasonable business decision such as negotiation of a long-term contract. How much of his reluctance is a function of his agent is unclear, but ultimately the agent works for the player and not the other way around. In other words, if Papelbon wants a deal to get done, he has the power to instruct the agent to get it done.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

  Holy Crap, I Have to Blog More

Congratulations to the former Red Sox Chick, Cyn Donnelly, known affectionately by Tru and me and a few others as Beazer, for her new gig at WEEI.com. The Beaz will be blogging about the Red Sox throughout 2009 at Toeing the Rubber.

Having been my friend for awhile now, Beazer was kind enough to put this blog on her blogroll. Of course, it was on the blogroll at her old sites too, but WEEI.com is the really really big time, and it would be embarrassing if I were to get an avalanche of curious clickers showing up here to find nothing more than monthly posts.

Hence my motivation to avoid said embarrassment by pledging upon my sacred honor to post more. And if no one clicks through from Toeing the Rubber, then that's fine too.


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Monday, January 12, 2009

  It's About Damn Time

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

you say that like you've been waiting forever... ;)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

  New Year, New Post: Baldelli and Smoltz

Today seems like a good day to resurrect this blog, considering the stories out about the Red Sox' acquiring a fourth outfielder and a veteran pitcher.

ESPN.com's Peter Gammons reported last night that the Sox were "close to signing free-agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli" and that the announcement would be made at tonight's Boston Baseball Writers dinner. But apparently it's already announced, or so WEEI.com's "This Just In" box currently states:

The Boston Red Sox today agreed to terms with outfielder Rocco Baldelli on a one-year contract through the 2009 season. No further terms were disclosed. To make room for Baldelli on the 40-man roster, righthanded pitcher Charlie Zink was designated for assignment.In five seasons of major league action, Baldelli has compiled a .281 average, 94 doubles, 52 homers and 234 RBI in 447 games, all with Tampa Bay. He was 4-for-20 with two home runs and six RBI in his post-season debut this past fall. -- (Jan. 8, 12:49pm)

'EEI's is also carrying a Paul Newberry Associated Press story saying that Boston has "reached preliminary agreement" with versatile 41-year-old pitcher John Smoltz, a one-year deal for $5 million plus another $5 million in performance incentives. It sounds like a typical low-risk Theo Epstein deal for a player who was out last season with shoulder surgery but should be able to contribute on some level in 2009. Depending on his health, Smoltz could relieve and spot start, or be the fifth man in the rotation now consisting of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Tim Wakefield.

No word yet on a catcher...

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