The Red Sox have apparently lost out on catcher Victor Martinez after he reportedly signed with the Tigers on Tuesday. Naturally, that left many members of Red Sox Nation asking the question, "What now?" in regards to the catching situation.
One thing it may mean, is that the Red Sox may have to bring Jason Varitek back for at least one more season.
It may not be what every Red Sox fan wants to hear, especially after it comes on the heels of losing a player like Martinez, who, at this point in his career, averages anywhere between 20 to 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a season – but Boston may have no choice.
It's becoming more and more obvious that the Sox are content with Jarrod Saltalamacchia as their everyday starter at catcher. General manager Theo Espstein has said so much in the past weeks.
"We'll probably have a more experienced guy than [Saltalamacchia] on the roster as well, but I think we're comfortable with him in a role anywhere from backup to job share to everyday guy, depending on how the rest of the club shapes up," Epstein said recently. "We like him. Obviously we liked him from a scouting standpoint. We took an opportunity to buy low after he'd been through a rough period."
Whether or not you totally believe that – well that's another story. But after missing out on Martinez, perhaps the Red Sox are placing their focus solely on free agents like Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford. The Red Sox would probably be a little more confident with Saltalamacchia as the starter if they were to sign one of those players. So, if they are insistent on having "a more experienced guy" in addition to Saltalamacchia, doesn't it make the most sense for that guy to be Varitek?
While the team declined to offer Varitek arbitration on Tuesday, that's not necessarily a guarantee they still won't bring him back.
The most obvious benefit of bringing Varitek back comes from the leadership and familiarity aspect. The guy is, after all, the captain of this team. Martinez had established himself as a leader on the field and in the clubhouse in his brief stint in Boston. Letting Martinez walk, and then Varitek as well, could leave a void in terms of leadership.
Also, you can't discount what Varitek brings to the pitching staff. Is that notion overplayed? Sure it is. But at the same time, there's a reason every pitcher on that staff swears by him.
Of course, there's always the chance the Red Sox look to make a trade to upgrade their catching situation. It's not the worst plan of action, but it's tough to imagine that they'll be able to find something comparable to Martinez. It kind of makes you wish, or at least wonder what might have happened this offseason if Joe Mauer hadn't signed that extension with the Twins last spring, doesn't it?
There's always the chance the Red Sox make an upgrade in the catching department via trade. Or perhaps the prevailing thought is that a year or two of Saltalamacchia and someone else is enough to buy some time until can't-miss prospects like Ryan Lavarnway or Luis Exposito are ready.
Regardless, there are certainly reasons to at least entertain the idea of bringing back Varitek for at least one more year. With what the team has now, it may be the most logical fit.