The Victor Martinez trade added one more body to a roster full of guys that can play first base, third base, catcher and designated hitter ... OK, so anybody can play designated hitter, but you get what I mean.
At the beginning of the season, the issue of Varitek coming back in 2010 all rested on how well he'd perform -- and it was just a matter of the team exercising its option or Varitek exercising his. But now we've got a kink in the lines with Martinez in the mix.
While that is said, Martinez's contract is also up at the end of this year, but the club has a $7.5M option for 2010 (the option was $7M, but a clause in his contract states it's raised by a half-million if he is traded). I have no doubt in my mind at this point that the Red Sox will definitely exercise his option and Martinez will be back for next season. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if they signed him to a new contract that is two-or-three years long. The only way Martinez wouldn't be coming back, in my opinion, is if he falls off the face of the map ... like that Eric Gagne guy. Everyone remembers him, right?
If Martinez comes back, Varitek is in an odd position -- as is Francona. However, if Varitek is out, we have a new starting catcher on Opening Day. The logjam is also decreased, making the roster fit a little bit better.
The next question is whether or not Martinez could be the starting catcher on a regular basis. We all know his defense isn't very good and he doesn't have many years left behind the plate, but wouldn't he be a better option than Varitek? He definitely brings a better bat to the lineup.
But there is a scenario that makes having Martinez and Varitek on the roster a little easier: if Mike Lowell is traded.
Just the thought of trading Lowell last off-season really angered a lot of fans in Red Sox Nation, but it might be a little bit easier this off-season. While Lowell is doing pretty well at the plate this year (.300 BA, 11 HR), his defense is absolutely atrocious. It's sad to say that after his amazing career at the hot corner, but it's coming to the point where his defense is costing the Red Sox runs and not saving them.
If Lowell is out, we've got to assume Youkilis would be the every-day third baseman and Martinez would be our guy at first base. Varitek, then, would be the every day catcher for another season.
In my opinion, either of these options are realistic. Lowell could definitely be traded (I'm not sure we'd get much in return, but he'd still be traded...) and Varitek might want to see if he can get some better money and more playing time elsewhere. I think the only thing that is definite in this whole situation is that Martinez's option will be picked up in the off-season.
Prepare yourselves: the Sox infield could look very different come February 2010.