BOSTON (AP) — The Red Sox and catcher Jason Varitek reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a $5 million, one-year contract, two people familiar with the talks said.
The deal contains player and team options that allow him to earn $8 million to $10 million over two seasons, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not yet final.
Varitek gets $5 million in 2009 and has a $3 million player option for 2010. The Red Sox have a $5 million team option for 2010.
If Varitek is playing under the player option, could earn an additional $2 million in 2010 based on games started: $400,000 each for 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120.
Varitek must take a physical before the agreement is completed.
Boston had set a Friday deadline for Varitek to accept or reject an offer that would extend his 12-year career with the team. Varitek, who hit .220 last year, became a free agent after completing a $40 million, four-year contract.
Known for his handling of pitchers, the switch-hitter is coming off his worst season at the plate with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 131 games. After making the AL All-Star team in 2003 and 2005, he batted .238 in 2006 and .255 in 2007.
Varitek, who turns 37 on April 11, is the Red Sox career leader in games at catcher with 1,273. Carlton Fisk, who also played with the Chicago White Sox, is second with 990 games with Boston.
The Red Sox wanted an answer to their offer by Friday so they could move ahead with their catching plans for spring training, which begins Feb. 12.
Boston has catcher Josh Bard, signed as a free agent after the San Diego Padres declined to keep him. The Red Sox also have two catching prospects at Triple-A Pawtucket: George Kottaras and Dusty Brown.
Varitek had declined the Red Sox offer to go to arbitration. The team decreased his desirability to other clubs because the offer of arbitration requires a club to give up a draft choice if it signed Varitek.
He had signed his previous contract and was named captain after batting a career-high .296 with 18 homers and 73 RBIs in 137 games in 2004. The next season, he was an All-Star starter for the only time and finished with a .281 batting average, 22 homers and 70 RBIs in 133 games.
For his career, he is batting .263 with 161 homers and 654 RBIs in 1,330 games.
The Red Sox had set deadlines with other clients of Scott Boras, including pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka before the 2007 season and free agent Mark Teixeira before the first baseman signed with the New York Yankees last month.
Varitek was obtained on July 31, 1997, in one of the most lopsided trades in Red Sox history. They obtained him and pitcher Derek Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.