Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Jason Varitek not offered arbitration
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox announced Tuesday they did not offer salary arbitration to catcher Jason Varitek, but that doesn't mean they've permanently cut ties with their longtime captain.
The Red Sox retain the right to negotiate with Varitek, but by not offering arbitration to the Type B free agent, they will not receive a first-round sandwich pick as compensation if he signs with another club. Had the Sox offered him arbitration and he accepted by next Tuesday's deadline, that would have been the equivalent of Varitek becoming a signed player.
Arbitration would have all but assured Varitek of a raise on the $3 million salary he was paid last season. Now the Sox can try to sign him to a lesser figure, more in keeping with his status as a backup catcher who is turning 39 on April 11.
According to club sources, the Red Sox remain interested in Varitek, who also has drawn attention from several other clubs in the market for a backup. With Victor Martinez reportedly headed for the Detroit Tigers, Varitek's value to the Sox increases as a potential mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, now in line to become the team's No. 1 catcher.
The Red Sox, as expected, offered arbitration to their two Type A free agents, Adrian Beltre and Martinez, ensuring them that they will receive a first- or second-round draft pick from any team, plus a first-round sandwich pick, as compensation should one or both sign with another club.
The Red Sox also offered arbitration to free agent infielder Felipe Lopez, a Type B free agent who will get them a sandwich pick as compensation. The Sox essentially signed Lopez for that reason when they picked him up after his release by St. Louis on Sept. 25. The Sox have an understanding that Lopez, who is hopeful of landing an everyday job somewhere, will decline arbitration, according to an industry source.
Utilityman Bill Hall was not offered arbitration, but even if he had been offered arbitration he would not entitle the Sox to any compensation if he signs elsewhere. Hall is expected to land an everyday job with another club.
The Red Sox, in a strictly procedural move, also did not offer salary arbitration to Mike Lowell, who has announced his intention to retire.
Among free agents the Red Sox might target, big-ticket outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth were offered arbitration by the Rays and Phillies, respectively.
There were a few Type A relief candidates who were not offered arbitration as of late Tuesday night, according to reports posted by MLBTRadeRumors.com, which could spur some interest from the Sox since they would not have to surrender a draft pick to sign them. That list includes right-hander Matt Guerrier, declined arbitration by the Twins, and right-hander Dan Wheeler, who was not offered arbitration by the Rays.
A number of Type B relievers also were set loose, meaning teams are willing to part with them and forfeit a sandwich pick. That group includes Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch.
Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a Type A free agent, was not offered salary arbitration by the White Sox, but he wouldn't appear to be a good fit as a backup in Boston. Bengie Molina, another Type A catcher, was not offered arbitration by Texas, and at 35, he might attract some interest from the Sox. The Padres offered arbitration to Type B catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who could also pop up on the Sox radar.
Elsewhere, first basemen Paul Konerko (White Sox) and Adam Dunn (Washington) received arbitration offers, while Yankees stalwarts Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, along with outfielders Manny Ramirez (White Sox) and Hideki Matsui (Angels) did not.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Material from Associated Press contributed to this report.