10 Nov 2007
Just what will the Red Sox do when Jason Varitek’s contract is up after 2008? JV is more than solid defensively, but his offense is on the decline.
Varitek’s OPS and OPS +
2001 – .860/123
2002 – .724/90
2003 – .863/120
2004 – .872/121
2005 – .855122
2006 – .725/83
2007 – .788/103
Definition of OPS+ can be found here. Essentially, Varitek has been a plus offensive catcher for his career, but his offense has tailed off since 2006. In 2006, he was just bad, while this past season he rebounded a bit, but was not a plus offensive catcher. This isn’t a knock on Varitek as catchers get old and they tend to age faster than other players.
The big question is what do the Red Sox do after 2008? George Kottaras? If it hadn’t been for a fantastic Juy, Kottaras would have been terrible in 2007. Unless he figures things out at AAA, I do not think he is a viable option in 2009. The key with Kottaras has been that his bat is good but his defense needs work. Well so far at AAA his bat has disappeared making his worth minimal.
The Red Sox could always extend Varitek another year or 2, but that comes with diminished expectations and it isn’t likely he will get better or even stay the same offensively. They need to find a catcher that can help in 2009 and beyond. High-A catcher Mark Wagner is intriguing, but you cannot get too excited about his offensive stats as he plays at Lancaster’s hitter friendly park. His home splits: .381/.454/.655 and his road splits: .251/.358/.398. In other words, he might be an ok hitter some day, but not a great hitter. Man those splits are extreme.
So keep your eyes open for the Red Sox to use Coco Crisp and a prospect to get a high ceiling catcher. Texas’ Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one idea, but he is probably the top catching prospect in baseball, so his cost might be steep. I’m not sure why Atlanta thought it a good idea for him to skip AAA ball. Why rush these guys? Regardless, my bet here is that the Red Sox make a play for the catcher of the future this off-season.