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Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors
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."
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.
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.
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..
- While the Red Sox have been engaged in talks with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, the team is unlikely to pursue a three-year deal for the 36-year-old, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The rival Yankees also won't go to three years, reportedly.
- The Angels are unlikely to trade Mark Trumbo, according to jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). The Halos believe that a fair return would be top notch young starting pitching for the slugger and that deal doesn't exist. The Angels also aren't sure if they can get a good enough starter in exchange for Howie Kendrick, which could leave them to try and net two starters on the open market with limited money (link).
- The Yankees' $153MM deal for Jacoby Ellsbury is supposed to put the squeeze on Robinson Cano, but it could backfire, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Red Sox's offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years for about $18MM, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Gordon to a minor league deal, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Ryan Webb was surprised to learn that he was non-tendered by the Marlins, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (on Twitter) expected Luke Gregerson to fetch more than Seth Smith. The Padres and A's swapped the two in a one-for-one swap earlier today.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe takes a closer look at the Red Sox's deal for A.J. Pierzynski.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's offically Thanksgiving day on the east coast, so let's take a look at a few notes from the eastern seaboard:
- The stage is set for the market to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, even if it isn't celebrated in the same time or manner by our neighbors to the north. While things have been relatively quiet for many clubs, including the Blue Jays, that could change with Monday's non-tender deadline and movement in top-of-the-market situations around the league (including the Japanese posting system and its implications for Masahiro Tanaka, increasing activity on the Robinson Cano front, and the Yankees' apparent decision to begin spending).
- Could a problem with Red Sox free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia's medicals be the cause of a seemingly slow market for the backstop's services? In an appearance on WEEI's Mut & Merloni (writeup via WEEI.com), ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that possibility, while acknowledging that he has no specific knowledge of Salty's file. But Jim Munsey, the 28-year-old backstop's agent, flatly denied that speculation in comments to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, saying "there are no medical issues hindering [Saltalamacchia's] market."
- Interestingly, Munsey did note that the Cubs — the team that Olney mentioned by name with respect to Saltalamacchia — had decided not to pursue the backstop in part because they "don't believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty's market." More generally, he expressed that things were going just fine for his client: "Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you're not hearing it doesn't mean it's not happening."
- Another player who has yet to see a full slate of bidders, according to Olney, is another Boston free agent: shortstop Stephen Drew. Olney says that he believes Drew's decision to reject the club's $14.1MM qualifying offer was a mistake. He reasons that it is looking worse by the day, with the Cardinals now out of the market and the Mets seemingly hesitant to give up a pick to sign him at that level of value.
- As for the aforementioned Cano, Olney says (in an Insider piece) that the big question facing the star second baseman and the Yankees is what other teams might get seriously involved. While there is no obvious alternative suitor at this point, Olney's trip around the league leaves him with a list of the teams that are most likely to have the financial and roster flexibility to make a real run.
- Atop Olney's list of theoretically viable Cano landing spots, along with the Tigers and Rangers, is the Nationals. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore recently laid out the case for the club to chase Cano. While he says the club lacks a pressing need to tinker with its infield, and GM Mike Rizzo has not shown a particular desire to do so, the fact remains that Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market and the Nats have the pockets to bring him in. Though Anthony Rendon has plenty of upside and cheap team control, he is young enough to serve in a reserve capacity or could be cashed in with a corresponding win-now move.
- Meanwhile, the recent signings of Javier Lopez and Manny Parra have taken away two major possible left-handed relief targets from the Nats, Kilgore writes. Other targets certainly remain, with Kilgore saying the team is continuing to talk with Boone Logan and noting others like J.P. Howell, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton, and Michael Gonzalez. Of course, even after parting with Fernando Abad, the club could still rely on remaining internal options like Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno, and could move starters like Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis to the pen.
- From my perspective, it is worth noting Rizzo's recent history with southpaw relievers. Over the last three years, the club has received its greatest contributions from hurlers like Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Burnett, Zach Duke, and the previously noted Abad, Cedeno, and Krol. Each of these players was either picked up as a minor league free agent or in a relatively minor trade (or, for Krol, as the last piece of a somewhat significant trade). After letting Burnett walk for a seemingly reasonable price last year and declining to outbid the early market on Lopez and Parra, Rizzo may still prefer to avoid utilizing significant resources to add lefties.
The Orioles are close to a minor league deal with infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, the O's are likely to hold off finalizing the deal in order to avoid having to add De Jesus to the 40-man roster to protect him from being selected in next week's Rule 5 Draft. Baltimore learned their lesson the hard way in that regard back in 2004 when they signed Chris Gomez to a minor league deal on Dec. 8 and saw him selected in the Rule 5 Draft four days later, Kubatko points out. Some more links pertaining to the AL East…
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that the Red Sox have had internal discussions about entering 2014 with Ryan Lavarnway as the team's primary catcher. Boston is more interested in a stopgap option as they await the arrival of Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart at the big league level and is therefore reluctant to strengthen its existing two-year offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
- The Yankees remain "very much engaged" with Omar Infante's agent, Gene Mato, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. The Yankees could try to sign Infante even if they retain Robinson Cano, says Marchand, envisioning him as a modern-day Tony Phillips who would play every day but at different positions. Marchand writes that the Yankees like Infante as a backup at third base and shortstop, and he also points out Infante's experience in the outfield.
- The Yankees paid a good amount to sign Cuban lefthander Omar Luis last year and they'll be making him available in this year's Rule 5 draft, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yanks initially signed Luis for a $4MM bonus but when an unexpected issue popped up in his physical, they negotiated that figure down to $2.9MM. It may be a long shot that any team will draft Luis, however, given how far away he is from contributing.
Zach Links contributed to this post.