Varitek returns for 15th Sox season

Posted Dec. 02, 2010, at 9:31 p.m.

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have signed catcher and team captain Jason Varitek to a one-year deal worth $2 million, according to a Boston Globe story citing an unidentified baseball source. The deal includes $300,000 in incentives that likely would be based on how often he plays.

Apparently, the Red Sox are prepared to move forward with Jarrod Saltalamacchia as their regular catcher and Varitek as the backup. This was the scenario first reported by Nick Cafardo Oct. 3. Sox captain Varitek, who will turn 39 in April, will apparently serve as the backup and mentor in his 15th season in Boston to Saltalamacchia.

Varitek’s 2010 season was limited to 39 games, thanks to a broken right foot he suffered June 30. He hit .232 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs.

Varitek is a career .258 hitter with 182 homers and 721 RBIs. Saltalamacchia, 25, had 24 at-bats in 12 games with Boston. He batted .167 with two RBIs. In 250 career games over four seasons, he’s hitting .248 with 23 homers and 95 RBIs.

In other Red Sox news, a baseball official says the  Red Sox have met with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford.

The Red Sox are targeting Crawford as the centerpiece of their offseason shopping. A major-league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting, confirmed that it took place.

A four-time All-Star, Crawford is one of the top players on the free-agent market. He earned $10 million from the Tampa Bay Rays last season while hitting .307 with 47 stolen bases and career bests of 19 homers, 90 RBIs and 110 runs scored.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and owner John Henry did not immediately respond to e-mails asking about the meeting. It was originally reported on a Yahoo! Sports Twitter feed.

Crawford is the longest-tenured player in Rays history. Over nine seasons, he is the franchise’s career leader in batting average, RBIs, hits, doubles, triples, runs scored and stolen bases.

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