BoSox apparently end Varitek era

Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:21 PM ET

The Boston Red Sox' changing of the guard continued Tuesday as backup catcher Kelly Shoppach reportedly was signed to a one-year contract.

The signing is significant because it means Red Sox captain Jason Varitek almost certainly won't be back.

Varitek has been with the team since the 1998 season, but the 39-year-old catcher is a free agent. He likely will join the high-profile list of departures from Boston this year, which include general manager Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Shoppach, 31, has spent the past two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. He will be the backup to first-string catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Shoppach, who was drafted in the second round in 2001 by Boston, is a career .224 but is dangerous against left-handed pitchers.

PHILLIES TALKIN' WILLIS

Dontrelle Willis is close to a one-year, $1-million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He likely would be used out of the bullpen as a situational left-hander, ESPN.com reports.

Willis wasn't impressive for the Cincinnati Reds in 2011, throwing 76 innings with a 5.00 earned-run average. He hasn't had an ERA under 5.00 since 2006 but the 30-year-old has done a decent job against left-handed batters.

BRIEFLY

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to submit a bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Darvish's team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, will have four days to announce the winning bidder and that team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with the 25-year-old right-hander. The Toronto Blue Jays are rumoured among the teams who will bid. Simply securing the rights could cost in the $50-million neighbourhood ... The Orioles have agreed to terms with Japanese starter Tsuyoshi Wada on a two-year deal worth $8.15 million, according to the Baltimore Sun. Wada, 30, had a 1.51 earned-run average 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2011. The Orioles are also interested in Japanese starter Wei-Yin Chen, the newspaper reported ... The Arizona Diamondbacks' one-year contract with Takashi Saito will pay the right-handed reliever $1.75 million, according to CBSSports.com. Saito, 41, has not had an ERA higher than 2.83 in any of his six MLB seasons. He was 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011 ... The Cincinnati Reds will sign former first-round pick Andrew Brackman, 26, to a major-league deal, according to reports. The Yankees selected the right-handed pitcher 30th overall in 2007.


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