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Varitek facing Saturday deadline to answer proposal


Varitek facing Saturday deadline to answer proposal
Red Sox NOTEBOOK

Jason Varitek filed for free agency more than three months ago. By the end of Saturday, it should become known whether the Red Sox catcher and captain will be returning to the team this season.

A Baseball source confirmed yesterday that the Sox presented Varitek with a deadline to their proposal. According to another Baseball source, Varitek has the choice of a one-year, $5 million contract or a one-year offer for a guaranteed $5 million with a dual option for 2010.

In the latter scenario, the Sox have a $5 million option for the 2010 campaign. Should the team decline the option, Varitek can return at a salary of $3 million, essentially guaranteeing him $8 million over two seasons.

The one-year offer may prove more appealing to Varitek because it would allow him to reenter the market next fall, at which point he might have greater earning power.

The Sox' proposal was made last week, meaning Varitek was granted 7-10 days to review an offer that seems to have come into greater focus.

On Monday, the Yankees agreed to a one-year contract worth $5.5 million with pitcher Andy Pettitte, who settled for a fraction of his asking price of $16 million.

Pettitte, like Varitek, is a highly regarded veteran long associated with one organization, though he did leave the Bronx for a three-year stint with the Astros from 2004-06. New York's initial offer to Pettitte was one year at $10 million.

Varitek made $10 million last season and was offered salary arbitration by the Sox, a process that likely would have earned him $10 million-$12 million in 2009. Varitek and agent Scott Boras rejected the offer because Varitek wanted a two-year commitment and because there was a chance the money could have been nonguaranteed. (Per terms of the collective bargaining agreement, arbitration awards are nonguaranteed if the matter reaches a hearing.)

Pettitte's deal includes up to $8.5 million in incentives based on innings and time on the active roster. Such incentives are more common for pitchers, given their probability for injury.

The only incentives in the proposal for Varitek are standard bonuses for awards such as the MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and All-Star Game, honors significantly less than the ones in Pettitte's contract. In his last deal, Varitek received $50,000 for representing the Sox at the All-Star Game.

Casey says goodbye

First baseman Sean Casey announced his retirement, ending his 12-year career after his lone season with the Sox.

Casey had a mere 199 at-bats with Boston, but he left a lasting imprint, like everywhere he played, with his talkative and friendly demeanor.

Casey believes he still could be a bench player, his agent having found sufficient interest throughout the league. But Casey weighed spending more time with his family and becoming an analyst for MLB Network against one more season as a role player.

Casey raved about his season as a Red Sox, and he seemed open to returning. But he figured once the Sox signed Mark Kotsay, his time in Boston had concluded. He batted .322 with the Sox, productive at the plate but limited by a nagging neck ailment and defensive shortcomings.

"Boston was probably one of my favorite years of my career, just being a part of the Boston Red Sox was unbelievable," Casey said. "This decision really had more to do with seeing my kids. It just felt like it was becoming time to be home more. The tough part about it is that Baseball has been so good to me, and it's been everything I thought it would be and more. It's been the ultimate dream for me."

Casey was a three-time All-Star and a .300 hitter - .302, to be exact - but he likely will be remembered for his uniquely cheery attitude. He relentlessly chatted up opposing hitters at first base. During his first spring training with the Reds, Casey walked into the media room and introduced himself, without prompting, to every reporter. Fans in Cincinnati, where he spent eight seasons, have lobbied for him to return ever since he was traded to the Pirates in 2005.

"It means a lot to me that I'm looked at, if I was a nice guy or a good guy in the game," Casey said. "And I was also a pretty good player, that's a pretty good combination. I'm as proud of the way I was able to be with teammates as I was of the things I did on the field."

Casey also stepped into his new role, analyzing Boston's impasse with Varitek.

"I'd be shocked if Tek doesn't come back to Boston," Casey said. "The fans love him there. The guys in that clubhouse love Tek. I can't imagine Jason Varitek putting on a uniform besides the Boston Red Sox . I saw him a few weeks ago. I know he wants to come back to the Red Sox. So I hope they get that done. I think it would be good for both sides, no doubt about it, especially that pitching staff."

Coach is added

The Sox named former major leaguer Alex Ochoa, who spent part of the 2007 season at Boston's Triple A affiliate in Pawtucket, a coaching assistant. His duties will include advance scouting and pregame preparation, and he'll be given assignments during games by manager Terry Francona.

Tony Massarotti can be reached at tmassarotti@globe.com; Adam Kilgore can be reached at akilgore @globe.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 28, 2009

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