In Varitek's case an arbitration award could have meant about $11 million, as he made $10.4 million last year. However, going to arbitration and having a fully guaranteed contract are two different things. To that point the Red Sox had declined to guarantee any offers to Varitek (arbitration deals are not fully guaranteed) and were hinting that Varitek's playing time might be diminished, so Varitek ultimately worried that the Sox only offered arbitration to keep the dialogue going and that ultimately they might release him after going to arbitration with him. Had the Red Sox taken him to arbitration, in reality they were only guaranteeing a little more than $1.5 million (a team that releases a player after arbitration but before the season only has to pay one-sixth of the salary). This is a fairly rare occurrence but it has happened in the case of Todd Walker and several other players.
Even so, it's still a mystery to many why Varitek didn't take arbitration. And even Red Sox owner John Henry asked Varitek in their well-publicized meeting a week ago why he didn't take the arbitration offer. The reason is that Varitek didn't believe that accepting arbitration would guarantee him a spot on the team.
In any case, it's believed that the Red Sox will finally make a guaranteed offer to Varitek sometime soon.