Player of the Day: Jason Varitek
Yep, when offered arbitration he should have done what Greg Maddux did with the Braves one year, and Barry Bonds did after breaking the homerun record: Accept the gift. He's forced to settle for about half of what he otherwise would have.
While the arbitration amount would not have been guaranteed, releasing him in spring training would have been a tough sell, mostly to other players on the team who always speak very, very highly of their captain. As for the fans, from the Red Sox fans I see posting on sites like Baseballthinkfactory.com however, they would probably praise such a move and worship their Theo for displaying a set of balls.
From his player page, Varitek is valued at 7 million considering average defense. The Red Sox underpay him approximately to the same extent that he would have been overpaid through arbitration.
He's essentially a league average catcher. His -10 Runs per 150 games exactly matches the position adjustment I use for catcher. While a league average player should be worth between 8 and 10 million, as a catcher (and especially a 37 year old one) he obviously doesn't play everyday, I have him projected for 120 games. I looked at the catchers who I think are most likely starters for every team, and order them by R150, Varitek ranks 16th. Once again, the definition of average in a 30 team league.
Rank all catchers by R150 and he comes in 24th, the difference is that some players ahead of him will not start. Some, like JR House, probably don't have the defensive skill needed. Others, like Kelly Shoppach behind Martinez or some of the Ranger catchers, are just in a situation where not everyone can be the starter.
Some people are going to read this and go off on how crappy a hitter Varitek is, and how there's no way he's an average catcher. Yes, he is a crappy hitter, but so are so many other catchers. The 14 catchers no better than Varitek, as hitters, who have starting jobs:
Bengie, Yadier Molina
Carlos Ruiz, Chris Snyder, Michael Barrett
AJ Pierzynski, Justin Towles, Kenji Johjima
Brian Schneider, John Baker, Gerald Laird
Nick Hundley, Jason Kendall, Jesus Flores