In Boston: Shoppach in, Varitek out?

The Red Sox are reportedly close to bringing veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach back to Boston this year, which could mean the end of a long run for Jason Varitek in a Red Sox uniform.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the $1.35 million deal Tuesday, and’s Ian Browne has since confirmed it. It will be the second stint for Shoppach with the Red Sox. He was Boston’s top pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, taken in the second round.

The deal is guaranteed, which means Ryan Lavarnway will be at least in a competition for Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s backup job, if Lavarnway isn’t outright ticketed for Triple-A Pawtucket.

It also means that a window for Varitek to return for a 16th season in Boston is virtually closed. Varitek, who turns 40 in April and is a free agent, has played his entire Major League career with the Red Sox.

— Joey Nowak

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