When Jason Varitek announced his retirement recently, it reminded me of when Varitek gave Alex Rodriguez a leather sandwich in a 2004 fight. A full-scale fight broke out after the exchange between Varitek and A-Rod. It showed the fearlessness of Varitek with him jamming his catcher’s mitt in the face of A-Rod.
Varitek was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round and was the 14th pick in the 1994 amateur draft. His retirement leaves only Paul Konerko the 13th pick as the only active major leaguer from that round. Varitek’s Georgia Tech teammate Nomar Garciaparra was the 12th pick in 1994.
Then Varitek and pitcher Derek Lee were traded to the Boston Red Sox in a lopsided trade for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb who compiled a 2-9 record and 4.97 ERA in two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile Varitek played his entire 15 year career with the Red Sox. Lowe pitched eight years for the Red Sox and posted a 52-27 record in his last three seasons with the Red Sox.
Varitek has earned a total of $8 million over the last three seasons, while earning $31 million in the previous three seasons and had played in only 107 games over the last two seasons. His defensive skills were slipping as he threw out only 12 runners in 85 base stealing attempts. That is in contrast to when he threw out 13 in 59 tries in 2006.
He will never have to wait by the phone for a call from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but he was a solid major league catcher that did his job well.