Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek walks back to the dugout at the end of the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 21, 2011.

When former Boston Red Sox and current Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette stole Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997 at the trade deadline, it marked the start of the Tek’s time in the Red Sox organization. And on this day in December of 2011, it looks as though his time as a member of the Red Sox is up.

With the Red Sox signing free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach to a one year deal worth $1.35 million on Tuesday, the Red Sox will more than likely will be without their captain for the first time since 2004 when he was named just the third captain of the Red Sox in their history.

Ironically enough, the Red Sox drafted Shoppach in the second round of the 2001 MLB Draft. He made it to the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2005 for nine games before being shipped to Cleveland for Coco Crisp and Andy Marte before the 2006 season.

He spent four seasons with the Indians before playing the last two with the Tampa Bay Rays.

With Shoppach in the fold at catcher for the Red Sox as the backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the presumption is that Ryan Lavarnway will start the season in Pawtucket allowing him some more time to develop his catching skills. We all know he doesn’t need to much work at the plate.

It is a bittersweet moment with Tek’s tenure in Boston likely done.

His skills have definitely eroded behind the plate as he’s gotten older and he’s not the same at the plate either. If there’s one thing good that he can still do, it’s call a game behind the plate. The part-time role the past two seasons has definitely suited him better.

But with the collapse of the team in 2011 and the reports that his leadership wasn’t the same, this Shoppach signing does not surprise me in the least. We all knew this moment was going to come some day.

I guess the big question now is this?

How will Josh Beckett react to not having his binky anymore?

Follow Ian on Twitter @soxanddawgs. And be sure to like us on Facebook as well.

Photo credit: Reuters Pictures