Technically, Jason Varitek is not really a career Red Sox. He was drafted and spent most of his development in the Mariners system. He spent his entire Major League career with the Red Sox however and that is why he is here.
Varitek was acquired in a trading deadline deal in 1997 along with Derek Lowe. The Red Sox gave up Heathcliff Slocumb. The deal worked out great for the Red Sox, having two major parts of the team that eventually won the World Series in 2004. It did not work out quite so well for the Mariners as Slocumb was a rollercoaster at the best of times. He spent very little time in the Red Sox minor league system and made his Major League debut, singling in his only at-bat, in 1997.
He became the primary backup catcher in 1998, playing in 86 games and hitting .253 with seven home runs. Because he was so much better defensively than incumbent catcher Scott Hatteberg, Varitek became the starter in 1999 and hit 20 home runs and led the league in putouts and range factor. Unfortunately he took a step backwards in 2000.
Varitek was on the verge of breaking out in 2001 until he suffered a season-ending elbow injury prior to the All Star break. He was slow to get back in 2002 and rumors began to swirl regarding his future with the organization. But he finally had the true breakout season in 2003, knocking 25 home runs and driving in 85 runs while making the All Star team for the first time. He was even better in 2004, hitting .296/.390/.482 with 17 home runs and helped the team to the World Championship.
2005 was the best season of Varitek's career as he hit .281/.366/.489 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs. Prior to the season, he signed a four-year deal with the Red Sox and was named Captain of the team, the first official team captain in years. He was elected to start the All Star game and won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.
Unfortunately, he slumped badly in 2006 and also dealt with injuries. He bounced back somewhat in 2007 before slumping again in 2008. That season he made his third All Star team despite a .220 batting average. 2009 was the end of the road for Varitek as a starting catcher as his average dipped further and Victor Martinez was acquired to become the starting catcher.
Varitek took the demotion in stride and produced off the bench. He became the mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2011. Varitek officially retired after the 2011 season, having spent his entire 15-year Major League career with the Red Sox. He hit .256/.341/.435 with 193 career home runs and 757 RBIs. He set several career positional records for the team, such as home runs and games caught. He was a part of two World Championships and caught a record four no-hitters.
Jason Varitek is my favorite player of all time and the largest player in my Red Sox collection (I have more cards of Sandy Alomar Jr., but he is helped out by having a lot of cards with other teams).