Jason Varitek was drafted by the Seattle Mariners as a catcher out of Georgia Tech in 1994, and now, two decades later, he could potentially return to the Emerald City of Seattle as the club’s manager after interviewing for the position earlier this week.
The 45-year-old Varitek spent a portion of the 1997 season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox with Derek Lowe at the trade deadline for closer Heathcliff Slocumb. Varitek would eventually become a mainstay in Boston as the starting catcher for fifteen seasons, earning captaincy and two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007.
After his playing career ended in 2011, Varitek quickly joined the Red Sox front office as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. Like many recently retired catchers who eventually became managers, Varitek possesses strong communication skills and an excellent knack for evaluating players.
In addition to Varitek, the Mariners have considered Phil Nevin, Charlie Montoyo, Alex Cora, and Tim Bogar as candidates for the managerial position vacated by the recently fired Lloyd McClendon, according to MLBDailyDish.com.
After finishing ten games below .500 in 2015, the Mariners are making sweeping changes under new general manager Jerry Dipoto. Chris Gwynn, the director of player development under former GM Jack Zduriencik, recently announced his resignation, and longtime front-office veterans Ted Simmons, Joe McIlvaine, and Pete Vuckovich are also on their way out come November 1st, according to MLB.com.
A new managerial hire is typically the first step towards on field changes after hiring a new GM, and Varitek could provide the Mariners with much-needed credibility for the new regime. As the Mariners once again rebuild, they are looking to return to the postseason after a 15-year drought, the longest current streak of futility in Major League Baseball.