Inbox: Will Varitek be back next season?
Beat reporter Ian Browne answers Red Sox fans' questions
Will Victor Martinez be the full-time catcher next year and will Jason Varitek still be around?
-- Liam R., Roslindale, Mass.
The Red Sox hold a $7 million club option for Martinez for 2010 that they will officially exercise any day. So, yes, Martinez will be back next season. He figures to get most of the playing time behind the plate, though manager Terry Francona will probably continue to play him at first base a couple of times a week so he can keep his legs fresh.
Regarding Varitek, the Red Sox are unlikely to pick up the $5 million club option they have on the captain for next season. That said, Varitek has his own option worth $3 million that he can exercise if he chooses. The decision Varitek has to make is whether he wants to kick in that option and be a backup player for a team he has been the leader of for several years, or if he'd rather finish his career somewhere else. The other decision Varitek could always make is to retire. Stay tuned.
Even though it's one year earlier than I would have liked, I'd love to see Varitek as the new Red Sox bench coach. Is there any interest from either side for that to happen?
-- Luke G., Portland, Conn.
That is one of those rumors that seemed to take on a life of its own from the day Brad Mills got his job as manager of the Astros. Down the line, I could see something like that. But not in 2010. It is usually beneficial for a player to take a step back for a year or two before making the transition from player to coach.
If you had to make a prediction, what kind of moves do you see the Sox making in the offseason? I feel like another bat is a definite need for the Sox. What is your opinion?
-- Colton W., Goldsboro, N.C.
We are of a similar mind on this one. I felt like last year's team was a big bat short of making a stronger postseason run. The question is where does that bat come from? Trade, free agency, current player stepping his game up a notch? Also, what position will that bat play? Most of the everyday lineup from 2009 is under contract to return next season. Shortstop and left field are the two positions where there could be openings, but left field has already been a position of strength for the team offensively.
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I believe Pedro Martinez's contract is up after this season with the Phillies. Considering how successful he's been since he came back, what is the possibility of the Sox going after him in the offseason? They have taken risks on guys like John Smoltz and Brad Penny, and Pedro's deal this year was low risk/high reward. How cool would that be, having Pedro back in Boston?
-- Wyatt R., South Egremont, Mass.
From a pure dramatic standpoint, it would be very cool. But I doubt it will happen. I think at this stage of Pedro's career, he would probably admit that the National League is a better fit for him. As we saw when Pedro returned with the Mets in 2006, he is still beloved in Boston and always will be. So why tarnish that by coming back and perhaps not being as effective? He left Boston while still in close to top form. Pedro's agents made inquires to the Red Sox last winter, and they politely declined any interest at that time.
I have heard that if the Red Sox are unable to re-sign Jason Bay, they might try to arrange a trade with Colorado for Brad Hawpe. Is this a possibility?
-- Noah N., Washington D.C.
Hawpe is a name that could come up for sure. He is an on-base guy, which the Red Sox like. He has a little thump in his bat, which they also like.
I know David Ortiz is a Red Sox icon with all he has done in the past, but now he just seems to be more of a liability than anything else. Is there a possibility of trading Papi in the near future, while he's still worth trading and getting something good for?
-- David P., Longview, Wash.
I know David had some brutal slumps last year and your last image of him is a very tough Division Series against the Angels. Fact is, however, he did have 28 homers and 99 RBIs. I would not call that a liability. But the Red Sox do need a more consistent performance out of the lefty slugger in 2010 and Ortiz would be the first to admit that.
What is Ortiz's future with the Sox?
-- Cindy K., Mansfield, Mass.
Ortiz is entering the final year of his contract. He will make $12.5 million in 2010. The Red Sox do have a club option for the same amount in 2011.
Last year at the trade deadline, there was some talk of the Red Sox trying to acquire ace Felix Hernandez. Theo Epstein once said that if he were to start a franchise from scratch, Felix would be the one guy he'd want. What do you make of this talk? Do you think it's a possibility this winter or maybe next year's free agency when Hernandez's contract is up?
-- Foxborough, Mass.
Yes, Epstein is one of 29 general managers outside of Seattle who would love to have Hernandez as his ace. It's a lot easier said than done. It sounds like Epstein put together a huge proposal of prospects to land Hernandez last July and even that fell short. It would be a great story if the Red Sox landed Hernandez, but a lot of things would have to go right for it to happen.
Do you think the Red Sox have any chance of signing Aroldis Chapman?
-- Ian L., Peterborough, N.H.
They've already had a meeting with Chapman and his agent, so, sure, there's a chance. The Red Sox have never been shy when it comes to International signings. Chapman has a 100-mph heater but is still growing as a pitcher. He will probably need some seasoning in the Minor Leagues. It will be interesting to see how the market plays out for him this winter.
I see that Josh Beckett will be in the last year of his contract in 2010. Would the Red Sox try to sign him to a long-term extension now rather than wait to the end of next year?
-- Bruce S., Burlington, Conn.
Interesting point. Beckett is, in fact, going into his free-agent year, which has been an underplayed story to this point. Because Beckett has never been a free agent, perhaps he wants to explore the process. Also, the Red Sox tend to be conservative when it comes to long-term contracts for starting pitchers. I think the sides will at least discuss trying to get something done, perhaps during Spring Training, when talks like that often take place.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.