Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Melky, Hamels, Gattis, Salty

Signing the likes of Pablo Sandoval or Russell Martin would represent a major shift from how the Blue Jays have approached the free agent market in recent years, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi writes.  Under Alex Anthopoulos, the Jays have signed only three free agents to multiyear contracts, none longer than three years (for Maicer Izturis) and none for more than $16MM (for Melky Cabrera).  The Jays’ stated internal policy of not offering contracts longer than five years could play a role, though they’d almost certainly have to top that mark to sign Sandoval, who reportedly wants a six-year deal.

More from north of the border…

  • With Cabrera’s status still up in the air, Anthopoulos is doing his due diligence on possible replacements within Toronto’s lineup, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports.  “We’ve thought about alternatives, you have to think about alternatives all the time for any position. I can’t speak for Melky specifically other than we’d like to have him back,” Anthopoulos said.  “We may have a good sense right now of what the likelihood is of signing him or not signing him, but I’m sensitive to not talking about someone else’s free agency, and not divulging negotiations or things like that….That’s not to say we don’t want it to happen with Melky, but we’re also being real with this. There’s a good chance he doesn’t come back, we just don’t know.”
  • Also from Davidi, the Blue Jays are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list.  The Red Sox are also known to be on Hamels’ block list, while the Cubs are not.
  • The BravesEvan Gattis doesn’t appear to be a Jays trade target, Davidi reports, and he also reiterates that the Jays aren’t interested in Yasmany Tomas.
  • If the Jays can’t land Martin, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun speculates that the club could pursue Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, “who is available” following a .220/.320/.362 performance over 435 PA in 2014.  Saltalamacchia just signed a three-year, $21MM free agent deal with Miami last winter, though obviously it wouldn’t be the first time the Marlins have looked to deal a recent high-profile signing.  I’m not sure I see Saltalamacchia as a fit for the Jays, as he costs a lot more than incumbent catcher Dioner Navarro but arguably isn’t an upgrade.
  • The Jays are talking to Brook Jacoby about becoming the club’s new hitting coach, Elliott reports.  Jacoby is an assistant hitting coordinator for the Rangers and previously spent seven years as the Reds’ hitting coach.

Quick Hits: Saltalamacchia, Harrison, Cardinals

Jarrod Saltalamacchia experienced a dramatic culture change when he went from a veteran Red Sox team to the Marlins this offseason, writes David Laurila of FanGraphs. “There aren’t 25-30 [reporters] waiting for you after a game like in Boston,” Saltalamacchia says. “Otherwise, the biggest difference is that there are a lot of younger guys. I’m finding myself saying things like ‘This is how we did it’ or ‘This is what I’ve seen.’ In some ways, it’s almost more of a coaching [role].” Saltalamacchia is one of several Marlins veteran hitters, including Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Rafael Furcal, Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson. But the team’s pitching staff remains very young, with an average age of just 25.7. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • Matt Harrison pitched six innings in his first big-league game since last April for the Rangers on Sunday. Texas lost, but having Harrison back should provide a boost for a Rangers rotation that had struggled with injuries — the team had acquired the now-departed Tommy Hanson late in the offseason, and Joe Saunders in spring training. The Rangers’ rotation now features Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross and Colby Lewis along with Harrison.
  • The Cardinals have missed Carlos Beltran so far this season, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Re-signing Beltran wouldn’t have made sense given the Cardinals’ outfield talent, but with Allen Craig struggling badly so far this year in right field, the Cards could use Beltran’s power. The Cardinals have a number of Triple-A outfielders hitting well (Oscar Taveras, Stephen Piscotty, Joey Butler and Randal Grichuk), but so far, they haven’t turned to them. Of course, it’s no surprise that they would continue with Craig in right field, given his track record and contract. (Soon after this post was published, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted that the Cardinals would promote Grichuk and infielder Greg Garcia, optioning outfielder Shane Robinson and second baseman Kolten Wong in the process.)

AL East Notes: Ervin, Johan, Salty, Lester, Bedard

Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn't rule out the possibility of his team adding Ervin Santana to the fold when asked by Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Said Showalter: "I wouldn't say that and be completely sure that it's true." Kubatko has garnered that the Orioles were comfortable going into the three-year, $30MM range but weren't interested at Santana's asking price of four years, $50MM. More on the Orioles, who officially signed a different Santana (Johan) yesterday…

  • Executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't commit to whether or not Johan Santana will be used as a starter or reliever if he's able to eventually take the mound, tweets Kubatko. Santana's contract contains incentives for games started, though reports yesterday indicated that they viewed him as a relief option as well. Duquette says Santana's ultimate role will be determined once the team sees how his velocity progresses. The two-time Cy Young winner topped out at 81 mph in his most recent workout, but he's very early in his throwing program at this point.
  • The offer Jarrod Saltalamacchia received from the Red Sox this offseason was the lowest of the six or seven offers presented to him, the catcher told reporters, including the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (Twitter link). The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber tweets that despite signing for a much lower average annual value, Saltalamacchia said he wouldn't have accepted a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, as he preferred multiyear security. The Globe's Matt Pepin has full quotes from Saltalamacchia, who said Boston's best offer was for two years, but "not a straight two-year deal," adding that there "were other things involved."
  • Jon Lester told reporters, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, that there have been no recent developments in his contract talks with the Red Sox. Lester, who has made his desire to stay in Boston well known, said he prefer to let agents Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES and GM Ben Cherington worry about those matters.
  • Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida spoke with Rays non-roster invitee Erik Bedard about how he is adjusting to the new clubhouse and what it's like to come into camp looking for a job each year. Bedard says he didn't think back to his days with the Orioles when he faced them in his first Spring Training outing, because he doesn't know many of the players or coaches anymore. "Every team turns around every year. It's never the same. Nobody keeps the same guys anymore. They'll switch, trade, get released. Back in the day, everybody stayed."

Marlins Sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Few pegged the Marlins to land any top free agents this offseason, but they landed one of the top catchers on the market by inking South Florida native Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year contract reportedly worth $21MM.  Miami officially announced the three-year deal on Friday.  Saltalamacchia is represented by Munsey Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.


Saltalamacchia, 28, also had serious interest from the Twins and some degree of interest from the Rangers, though they seem to have shied away from the idea of a reunion in recent days.  With Brian McCann off the board, Salty was the top remaining catcher on the free agent market.  On top of that, the former Red Sox backstop had extra appeal with nearly every other starting-caliber backstop already off the board.  The switch-hitter batted .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers last season, but he also struck out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances and posted just a .628 OPS as a right-handed batter.  Among all players with 400 plate appearances in 2013, Saltalamacchia's 29.6% strikeout rate is the ninth-worst.

Another one of Saltalamacchia's biggest drawbacks is his difficulty in hitting left-handed pitching, with a .206/.269/.338 line since 2011.  Saltalamacchia is below average at throwing out attempting basestealers and preventing them from trying, according to FanGraphs.  His caught stealing percentage of 21.2% was second-to-last among qualified catchers this year.  Saltalamacchia has typically about average in terms of pitch framing, though he was slightly below average in that regard in 2013.

There may be no team that needed a catching upgrade more than the Marlins.  Miami catchers combined to bat .192/.249/.280, which translated to a league-worst wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) of 43.  Fangraphs pegged Miami catchers at -1.8 wins above replacement — also the worst mark in all of Major League baseball.

As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press  (Twitter link) pointed out earlier prior to the agreement, the Marlins might have had a leg up on Minnesota in their chase for Salty.  Not only do Saltalamacchia and his family reside in Wellington, Fla. (less than 70 miles from Marlins Park), the state has no income tax, meaning the Twins might have had to outspend the Marlins by a significant margin to win out.

The Red Sox would have liked to have Saltalamacchia back in the fold, but they were reportedly unwilling to go beyond two years for a catcher.

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post first reported that Saltalamacchia was likely headed to the Marlins (Twitter link). Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel first reported that the agreement was in place (on Twitter). The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer reported the year-to-year breakdown (also on Twitter).

Steve Adams contributed to this post.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Red Sox Notes: Granderson, Ellsbury, Salty, Lavarnway

The Red Sox "haven't ruled out" a pursuit of Curtis Granderson, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link). In light of last night's sudden and surprising agreement between Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees, the Red Sox have a need in the outfield, though that could simply be handled by Jackie Bradley Jr. The Sox could use Grandy in either right field or center field, with Shane Victorino occupying the other slot. Here are some more Boston-related news items…

  • Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets that Boston's talks with Ellsbury didn't go too far beyond the five-year, $80MM range. That jives with previous reports that the Red Sox didn't want to give Ellsbury $100MM or more and last night's report that their offer was "a ways off" from that of the Yankees.
  • WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox have been limiting their offers to free agent catchers to two years so as not to block the paths of top prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. As such, their best offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a two-year deal that could top out at $18MM after incentives. Saltalamacchia instead agreed to a three-year deal with the Marlins yesterday.
  • The signing of A.J. Pierzynski could spell the end of Ryan Lavarnway's time with the Red Sox, Speier writes in a separate piece. Lavarnway has made a lot of strides defensively over the past few years but still isn't a defensive asset, and his offense has seen a precipitous drop since a 32-homer minor league season in 2011. Since that time, he's hit just 14 homers in 829 plate appearances. The presence of Swihart, Vazquez and Dan Butler creates a logjam that could leave Lavarnway on the outside looking in.

Quick Hits: Granderson, Beltran, Trumbo, Cano

In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder.  Here's more from around baseball..

Marlins Close To Deal With Saltalamacchia

4:27pm: Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel reports that the Marlins have offered three years and $21MM (Twitter link). Passan hears that the Marlins are "closing in" on a deal with Saltalamacchia that is in the three-year, $22MM range.

4:03pm: The Marlins are the "extreme" favorites to land Saltalamacchia after offering a three-year deal worth as much as $8MM per season, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

3:58pm: The Marlins have made a three-year offer to Saltalamacchia, who is in Miami to meet with the team today, a person with direct knowledge of the talks tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino says that the Twins have moved on from their pursuit of catchers and will go with promising rookie Josmil Pinto as their main catcher in 2014 (Twitter links).

2:58pm: Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (on Twitter) hears that Salty is headed to the Marlins.

1:55pm: The Rangers won't pursue a reunion with Saltalamacchia, a source tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).

1:03pm: The Marlins have offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal with a club option for a third season, according to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).

12:23pm: The Marlins and Twins remain in pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports (also via Twitter) that Salty's market is moving quickly enough that he could sign prior to next week's Winter Meetings.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities adds that there's an industry sense that the two teams will have to present Saltalamacchia with their final offers in the next day or so. According to Wolfson, the Twins will have to outbid the Marlins to land Saltalamacchia, who is a South Florida native. However, Wolfson also says that Saltalamacchia is "definitely on board" with becoming a Twin (Twitter links).

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press points out that not only do Saltalamacchia and his family reside in Wellington, Fla. (less than 70 miles from Marlins Park), the state has no income tax, meaning the Twins could have to spend significantly more than the Marlins (Twitter link).

Saltalamacchia is the top remaining catcher on the free agent market now, and nearly every other starting-caliber backstop has already found a new home early in the offseason. The switch-hitter batted .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers last season, but he also struck out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances and posted just a .628 OPS as a right-handed batter.

It's unclear whether or not the Twins have made an offer to this point, but the Marlins reportedly have already done so. Of course, another team could jump into the mix late in the game. The White Sox are one team that could still use an upgrade behind the plate, though that's solely my own speculation.

Latest On Pierzynski, Saltalamacchia

As many of the same teams appear to be in on both A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and several signings having left these two at the top of this year's remaining free agent catching crop, let's look at a few notes on the two backstops:

  • The Twins are no longer pursuing Pierzynski, a major league official told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Minnesota has been heavily rumored to be chasing a veteran backstop after deciding to shift Joe Mauer to first. Recently, we had heard that the Twins were "making progress" on bringing Pierzynski back to Minnesota, but that appears no longer to be the case.
  • Minnesota has also been rumored to be looking at Saltalamacchia, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that they are still in the mix. The other two front-runners for Salty are the Marlins and Red Sox, according to Jackson.
  • Indeed, Miami recently made an offer to Saltalamacchia, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The terms of the offer are not known. As Rosenthal notes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com previously reported that the Red Sox offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal to return to Boston.

Red Sox Preparing Alternatives To Own Free Agents

The Red Sox are still waiting for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to decide whether to accept Boston's free agent offers, but they're nearing the point when they might move forward, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The Red Sox haven't set deadlines for any of their free agents to accept offers, but a source tells Bradford that the Sox are "certainly working on other options, also." The Red Sox told at least one player that they would soon need to make plans to potentially acquire another player to take his place.

Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew all rejected qualifying offers from Boston, and the Red Sox have since made new offers to all three players. Saltalamacchia did not receive a qualifying offer, but the Red Sox did offer him a two-year deal at an annual amount below the $14.1MM qualifying offer figure.

New York Links: Citi Field, Cano, McCann

What better to go with your Thanksgiving apple crisp than some baseball news from the Big Apple?  Here's the latest from the Mets and Yankees…

  • Citi Field's reputation as a pitchers' park has generated concerns amongst some of the Mets' free agent targets, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.  Though Citi Field's fences were brought in before the 2012 season, the club's pitcher-friendly history is “something that is still in the (players’) heads out there, that it’s a tough park to hit in,” one agent said.  "They see what David Wright went through there and it makes them a little nervous I think."  As Ackert notes, Citi Field allowed an average of 1.2 home runs per game in 2013, the tenth-most of any stadium in the majors.
  • The Mets have an interest in signing right-hander Armando Galarraga and southpaw Victor Garate, Rafael Tejera reports (via Twitter).  Both pitchers have also been offered contracts by teams in Asia.  As ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes, the Mets would "undoubtedly" only be interested in the two hurlers on minor league deals.
  • The Yankees were set on Brian McCann as their top catching target and had only passing interest in Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  The Bombers made no "serious overtures" to Ruiz and had slightly more substantive talks with Saltalamacchia, though one industry source described Salty only as the Yankees' "Plan B" if McCann signed elsewhere.
  • "There’s no imaginable, alternate usage of the Yankees’ resources that will give them a roster superior to one featuring [Robinson] Cano," Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes.  Cano will "get paid" by someone, however, as all elite free agents do, and Davidoff expects the Yankees to pay at least $200MM to retain the second baseman.  If another team goes substantially beyond a projected eight-year/$200MM offer, then Davidoff says the Yankees "would have an intellectual right" to let Cano leave.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Yankees free agent hurler Phil Hughes should be able to find a multiyear on the open market, which puts the Mets out of the running for the right-hander's services.