Vote: Who Should Be Red Sox’ Next Captain If Jason Varitek Doesn’t Return?

Vote: Who Should Be Red Sox’ Next Captain If Jason Varitek Doesn’t Return?After winning the 2004 World Series, then free agent Jason Varitek signed a relatively team friendly four-year, $40 million deal to stay in Boston. The Red Sox appreciated Tek's loyalty to the team and rewarded the franchise's cornerstone backstop, appointing Varitek as the team's third ever captain.

Varitek wore the "C" proudly on his jersey for the past seven seasons, joining only Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice to bare the honor, proving his worth to the franchise with two more All-Star selections (2005, 2008), a Silver Slugger Award (2005) and of course another World Series title in 2007.

Now, with Varitek's days with the Sox possibly over, the question of the team's captainship jumps to the forefront. New Sox manager Bobby Valentine mentioned on Wednesday that he hadn't planned on naming a new captain if Varitek isn't back with the franchise in 2012. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't.

Plus, there are a few candidates already in house definitely deserving of wearing the "C".

Adrian Gonzalez is certainly one possibility to consider. Gonzalez had a monster year for the Red Sox in 2011, posting a team high .338 average with 27 home runs and 117 RBIs. The 29-year-old All-Star's future in Boston is also a non-issue, as Gonzo is locked down with the franchise until at least 2018.

Another option for the "C" could be Boston's loveable "Big Papi" David Ortiz. Papi is entering his 10th season with the Red Sox and has been a major factor in the team's success, including two World Series, over the past decade. The only concern may be Ortiz's age, as the Sox DH did turn 36 in the offseason. While he did come through with a productive 2011, Papi isn't quite the same player as his glory years and a one-year-deal doesn't necessarily solve the search for a long-term solution to wear the "C".

Kevin Youkilis could be another answer for the Sox, if a captain is to be named going forward. Youk has been a member of the Sox organization since Boston selected him in the eighth round of the 2001 MLB Draft. The four-time All-Star was a catalyst for Boston during both of their World Series titles and has performed admirably in any role Sox management has asked over the past eight years. A true Red Sox lifer but, much like Ortiz, his age (33) could be a concern.

Arguably the most likely player destined to be the next captain of the Red Sox is Dustin Pedroia. The 2008 AL MVP certainly has the pedigree of a Yaz or Rice within the organization and is widely considered to be the most passionate player on the Sox roster. He's an MVP candidate just about every season and at 28 is ripe to take over the reigns.

So, given Varitek's uncerain future in Boston, who do you think should be named as the next captain of the Red Sox?

Who should be the Red Sox’ next captain if Jason Varitek doesn’t return?

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