Since the Houston Astros named former Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills as their new manager last week, Red Sox manager Terry Francona's offseason has gotten more complicated.
Though The Boston Globe reported that Francona would prefer to replace Mills from within the organization, no decisions have yet been made.
Francona also will have an altered catching situation to manage in Boston.
The Red Sox hold a $7 million option on Victor Martinez, who was acquired at the trading deadline from the Cleveland Indians for pitchers Justin Masterson, Bryan Price and Nick Hagadone. The Red Sox are expected to formally exercise Martinez's option shortly. Because Martinez is younger than Jason Varitek and can play both catcher and first base, Francona made sure to get Martinez plenty of playing time in the second half of the season and during the Red Sox' ALDS loss to the Angels.
In so doing, Francona made the decision to lighten the load on Varitek, who struggled in 2009 after testing the free-agent waters last winter. The veteran ended up signing a one-year, $5 million deal with Boston, with a 2010 team option for $5 million and player option for $3 million. If Varitek exercises his option, the captain would be relegated to backup duties for the team he's played for since 1997.
Though the catching decision will ultimately not be made by Francona, there is widespread fan speculation that the Red Sox might offer Varitek a coaching position within the organization should he choose to retire. While that remains a possibility down the road, the Red Sox have no immediate plans to offer such a position to the 37-year-old veteran, MLB.com's Ian Browne reports. Francona, Martinez and Red Sox pitchers have nothing but high praise for Varitek and it's clear that he's a fan favorite. Only time will tell what the future holds for the catcher and his manager.