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January 30, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Sox retain Varitek

Ian Browne at RedSox.com is reporting that catcher Jason Varitek will return to the Red Sox in 2009 after agreeing to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2010. As had been speculated over the past week, the deal will pay Varitek $5 million next season, with a base salary of $5 million in 2010 if the Red Sox pick up the option or $3 million if the team declines the option but Varitek wishes to return. He could also earn up to $2 million more in 2010 from incentives based on games played, raising the total value of the contract to $10 - $12 million. Varitek, who will turn 37 years old on April 11, batted .220/.313/.359 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 423 at bats in 2008, the worst offensive season of his big league career.

Varitek will play his 12th full season in 2009 with the Red Sox, the only major league team he has ever played for. He was an American League All Star in 2003 and in 2005, when he also won the American League Silver Slugger award with a .281/.366/.489 line that included 22 home runs and 70 RBI. A career .263/.346/.439 hitter with 161 home runs and 654 RBI in 1330 major league games, Varitek was originally a first-round pick (21st overall) of the Minnesota Twins in 1993 but did not sign. He was then selected in the first round (14th overall) in the 1994 draft by Seattle. He was acquired by the Red Sox at the trading deadline in 1997, along with Derek Lowe, for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. The Red Sox captain since the start of the 2005 season, the switch-hitting Varitek will likely be joined by the recently acquired Josh Bard to form Boston's catching tandem in 2009. To make room for Varitek on the 40-man roster, first baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket.