The catcher, who turns 39 in April, will sign a one-year deal for $2 million, with another $300,000 in incentives based on playing time -- $100,000 each for 60, 70 and 80 games started at catcher. The Red Sox had not offered Varitek arbitration.
The deal originally was reported by SI.com and confirmed by a source to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
The Dodgers had reportedly explored signing Varitek to help stabilize their uncertain catching situation. Instead, Varitek returns for a 15th season in Boston, likely as the backup and mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Last year's starter, Victor Martinez, signed a free-agent contract with the Tigers this offseason.
Varitek had been braced to leave Boston, speaking on the last day of the 2010 season that his time in Boston had come to an end. But he also noted, "there are a billion different scenarios," and when the Sox did not re-sign Martinez and decided to take what they consider a calculated risk in Saltalamacchia, the way was made clear for Varitek's return.
"That's great,'' Saltalamacchia texted upon hearing the news. "Thrilled he's coming back.''
At least one major league club that had interest in Varitek asked if he was willing to leave Boston, according to a baseball source, and was told by agent Scott Boras that a club would have to pay a premium to induce him to leave. The club bowed out at that point.
Varitek batted .232 last season with seven homers and 16 RBIs. He was a key member of two Red Sox World Series championships, is a three-time All-Star and has caught an MLB record four no-hitters.
He has been with the Red Sox since 1997, when he came in a trade from Seattle with Derek Lowe for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. That trade, engineered by Dan Duquette, ranks among the best ever made by the club.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.