Crawford passes physical; press conference Sat.

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
7:25
PM ET
BOSTON -- Free agent outfielder Carl Crawford passed his physical Friday, a baseball source confirmed, making his signing of a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox a formality.

The club announced that it will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Saturday to announce Crawford's signing.

The Red Sox are also holding their annual "Christmas at Fenway" event on Saturday, in which tickets for select games will go on sale.

On Friday, the Sox also made official the signing of team captain Jason Varitek, who will be returning for his 15th season. Varitek came to terms over a week ago on a one-year, $2 million deal that includes an additional $300,000 in performance incentives, based on games started. Varitek will receive $100,000 for each of these three thresholds: 60 starts, 70 starts, 80 starts.

The identity of the catcher that Varitek will be sharing playing time with next season remains unclear. The club had declared its willingness to go with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but now appear to be hedging their bets, as they are deep in negotiations for former Dodger catcher Russell Martin. Saltalamacchia has an option left, meaning the club could send him back to Pawtucket to start this season.

That is a highly plausible scenario, inasmuch as Saltalamacchia and Varitek are both coming off injuries and the Sox would be left in the lurch if either went down.

The other teams in on Martin -- Toronto and New York -- are in similar situations as the Red Sox. Toronto let John Buck go as a free agent -- he signed with the Florida Marlins -- and are left with young catcher J.P. Arrencibia. The Yankees, meanwhile, expect longtime catcher Jorge Posada to serve primarily as DH next season, leaving them with two young catchers, Francisco Cervelli and highly regarded prospect Jesus Montero.

Martin is a former All-Star, but he is recovering from a torn labrum in his hip, and coming off two down seasons offensively, all of which figured in the Dodgers' decision not to meet his demand for a guaranteed $5 million, electing to nontender him instead.

The catching ranks are thinning. There are several free agents still available, but none that would project as No. 1 catchers. The Pirates have made clubs aware that switch-hitting Ryan Doumit is available, a source said Friday night, and he could also serve as a backup in the outfield, but he, too, would be a reserve and is regarded more as a bat.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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