Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors

Reactions To Blake Swihart’s Promotion

Injuries to Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez led the Red Sox to promote top catching prospect Blake Swihart ahead of schedule, a move that became official today. Here are a few notes on Swihart’s call-up.

  • Swihart started catching full-time only after being drafted in 2011 and still has more to learn about calling pitches and working with pitchers, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. “I think we’re starting to see him recognizing that a little bit more, reading swings, understanding where these hitters are at, and making the attack from them. You can obviously have a pitch plan on paper. That’s nice. But these hitters, they adjust,” says Kevin Boles, Swihart’s manager at Triple-A Pawtucket. “The window that we had last year, he’s very athletic but there still remained quite a bit to work on. There still is, but he’s showing a little more polish at this point.”
  • Scouts also think Swihart’s work behind the plate needs additional work, although they think he’s ready offensively, Speier writes. “He will have some defensive lapses just from a lack of total development time, but his athleticism, arm, and makeup will help him survive,” says one scout.
  • Swihart isn’t ready to start in the big leagues yet, but a source tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that the Red Sox don’t seem interested in re-acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who the Marlins recently designated for assignment.
  • Swihart possesses considerable upside, with tools reminiscent of Buster Posey, Vince Lara-Cinosomo of Baseball America writes. While Swihart’s work behind the plate will make his transition to the big leagues a tough one, his athleticism should help him.
  • The loss of Hanigan, who will require surgery to treat a fracture in one of the knuckles of his right hand, will be a tough one, Sox starter Justin Masterson tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. “It’s a big loss,” says Masterson. “He’s a big part of helping things come together.” Hanigan, acquired last offseason after being traded from the Rays to the Padres and then to Boston, was already making solid progress in getting to know the Red Sox’ pitching staff, manager John Farrell says.

D-Backs, Rays, Royals Among Clubs Discussing Saltalamacchia

10:50pm: Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Orioles are not in the mix for Saltalamacchia.

10:05pm: The Diamondbacks, Rays and Royals are all discussing Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s unclear if Kansas City’s interest has picked up at all between McCullough’s report and this latest update, though the Rays and certainly the D-Backs would seem to have a bigger need behind the dish. Like MacPherson yesterday, Heyman hears that the Red Sox aren’t in the mix.

4:14pm: The Royals have some interest in Saltalamacchia, but their interest is said to be very preliminary, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). As McCullough notes, GM Dayton Moore was the Braves’ director of player development when Atlanta drafted Saltalamacchia.

APRIL 28, 3:12pm: The Angels are not currently involved in trade talks while the Mariners are weighing internally whether to pursue him, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). 

APRIL 27: The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.

Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.

Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.

Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.


Marlins Designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia For Assignment

In a rather surprising move, the Marlins announced that they have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment.

Saltalamacchia, 29, is less than a month into the second year of a three-year, $21MM pact with the Marlins. He’s owed $6.16MM through season’s end and still has an $8MM salary remaining in 2016, the final year of his contract. With $14.16MM left on his deal, Saltalamacchia is all but certain to clear waivers if that’s where he’s headed, but it remains possible that the Marlins could move him to another club if they absorb a significant portion of his remaining salary.

Though the remaining salary on his contract and the early juncture of the season make this move unexpected, Saltalamacchia’s bat hasn’t justified the investment which the Marlins made in the 2013-14 offseason. In a combined 468 plate appearances over the past two years, Saltalamacchia has batted just .209/.310/.351 with a dozen homers. Top catching prospect J.T. Realmuto was promoted earlier this month and will be relied upon as the everyday catcher going forward, it would seem.

It’s possible that the Marlins are far enough along in trade discussions that they were comfortable designating Saltalamacchia in order to clear a 40-man spot now. (The Orioles recently did this with Ryan Webb, for example.) It seems odd that they wouldn’t be able to find a taker for Saltalamacchia at $1-2MM per season to spare them some of the cost, but as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes, the team did try to trade Saltalamacchia all winter without any success (Twitter link).



NL East Links: Realmuto, Nats, Phillies, Kimbrel

Giancarlo Stanton connected on his first homer of the season tonight — a two-run blast off Mets righty Dillon Gee that marked the 155th round-tripper of his career. The home run had particular significance for Stanton, who now moves past Dan Uggla into sole possession of the Marlins‘ all-time franchise home run record. Given his 13-year contract, one can expect that Stanton will occupy the top spot on that list for quite some time.

Another Marlins item and some news from around the division…

  • Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto had two hits in the team’s win yesterday and started again on Thursday, and the top prospect could be ticketed for a more significant role on the team moving forward, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Manager Mike Redmond said he spoke with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is earning $7MM in 2015, about the division of playing time already. “I think it’s always a touchy situation anytime you have conversations with guys, and you have to give them a break,” Redmond explained. “…[W]e’re trying to win ballgames. If giving Salty a few extra days here or there helps him and helps us, then it will be worth it.”
  • The Nationals have had quite a bit of bad luck in terms of injuries early in the season, but Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets that GM Mike Rizzo is focusing on internal options to patch up the bullpen. Of course, Janes’ tweet did come prior to the announcement that Craig Stammen may be lost for the season, but the Nats likely were prepared for bad news on Stammen at the time of her tweet.
  • Without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen beyond Jake Diekman, the Phillies could use an upgrade in that area but are short on internal options, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seemingly expressed a bit of frustration that lefty relief option Andy Oliver elected free agency rather than remaining with the club when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Zolecki writes that Oliver would’ve been on a short list of potential call-ups, and Amaro spoke candidly about the 27-year-old Oliver’s decision to leave: “We offered him a pretty good deal to come back. He just decided to go somewhere else. I think it was a very foolish move on his part, but that’s OK. He had a choice. He had that right.”
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth of MLB Network Radio about the conversations he had with president of baseball operations John Hart prior to the finalization of the Craig Kimbrel trade (audio link). Gonzalez learned of the strong possibility of a trade 48 hours prior to its completion, and he called that time “maybe the toughest two days.” Gonzalez said it was difficult to see Kimbrel leave because of his talent and what he meant to the organization, and he also discussed the conflict he felt as a manager. “I’m going to have to put on two different hats here,” said Gonzalez. “You’re asking me to trade the best closer in the game, and you’re asking me to win ball games and I’m in the last year of my contract. But then you’re telling me the reasons of why we’re doing it and why it’s going to help the organization. … I took a step back and digested for a day and a half — I think it was going to happen whether I said yes or no — but I said, ‘You know what John, this is what’s best for the organization. This is what we have to do.'”

Heyman’s Latest: Kimbrel, Howard, Perez, Salty, Soriano, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.

More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…

  • While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
  • Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
  • The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
  • The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
  • The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
  • Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.

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.

Salty

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.