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Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors
Theo Epstein admitted that the Cubs "got a little ahead of ourselves" in signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52MM contract last winter. In response to a fan's question at a season ticket-holders event in Chicago, Epstein said the team “didn’t fully understand the scope of our situation, the overall situation with the timing of our business plan, the timing of our facilities and the timing of our baseball plan." (hat tip to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). The Jackson signing was seen a surprise move for the rebuilding Cubs and it hasn't worked out thus far, as Jackson posted a 4.98 ERA over 175 1/3 IP in 2013.
Here are some more items as we head into the weekend…
- Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more "quality" starting pitching this winter. "Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us," Epstein said.
- The Indians' biggest needs this winter are bullpen pieces and a complementary bat, Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti tells Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).
- Scott Boras scoffed at projections that Stephen Drew would only find a three-year contract this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really? Are these writers aware of what Elvis Andrus signed for?", Boras asked. The Andrus comparison isn't as entirely outlandish as it first appears, since Andrus' eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers is only guaranteed for four years and $62MM since Andrus has opt-out clauses. Still, even that price tag seems quite high — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Drew for a four-year, $48MM deal this winter and that was with reservations about the fourth year and the draft pick compensation attached to Drew's free agency.
- Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan could be a better catching option for 2014 than Jarrod Saltalamacchia even aside from the financial considerations, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron opines (Twitter links). Hanigan actually has a higher career WAR than Saltalamacchia (8.3 to 6.9) and could be available in a trade, while "Salty" could cost a team around $36MM in free agency.
- The Dodgers should at least consider trading Yasiel Puig, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues. He would certainly net more in a deal than any club's higher-priced outfielders and the Dodgers could be selling high on Puig since it's unclear whether his style of play will age well.
- The Angels don't have much payroll room to make big changes for 2014 but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks the Halos might only need a few tweaks to contend.
- The Tigers aren't likely to re-sign Ramon Santiago, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, as the team has younger and cheaper utility infield options available. Santiago, 34, has played for Detroit since 2006 and spent 10 seasons overall with the Tigers as a backup or part-time starter in the middle infield.
7:05pm: The Red Sox called today to express their interest in bringing Saltalamacchia back, agent Jim Munsey tells MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
"I’m a little surprised with not more conversation going on just because I thought we had a common idea of where we wanted to be. I put so much time and effort into the team and into the organization and they’ve done the same for me. But like I said, I may be premature and they might call out of nowhere, or might have already called and I just don’t know yet."
Saltalamacchia, who is represented by agent Jim Munsey, was the only of Boston's major free agents not to receive a qualifying offer from the team; Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew all received the offer. Saltalamacchia went on to say that he felt lucky to be able to go to Fenway Park for work each day for the four years he spent in Boston, and that his preference is to remain with the Red Sox. Saltalamacchia went so far as to say that as long as the offers were close, he'd turn down a larger offer from another team to stay in Boston.
The 28-year-old Saltalamacchia enjoyed his best season in 2013, batting .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs in a career-high 470 plate appearances. He will be one of the youngest free agents on the market this offseason. That youth, his strong season and the lack of quality catching options throughout the game led MLBTR's Tim Dierkes to project a four-year, $36MM contract on the open market.
2:10pm: Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has confirmed to reporters, including Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, that Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury will receive qualifying offers (Twitter link). Saltalamacchia will not receive a qualifying offer, according to Cherington.
Ellsbury, MLBTR's No. 2 ranked free agent, was a lock to receive and reject a qualifying offer. The other three weren't as certain, but the Red Sox now stand to receive three extra first-round picks if this trio signs elsewhere.
Drew signed a one-year, $9.5MM contract with the Red Sox looking to rebuild his value, and he did just that. The shortstop enjoyed a strong age-30 campaign, batting .255/.333/.443 with 13 homers and playing standout defense at shortsop. He seems likely to pursue a multiyear deal on the free agent market this winter and could be in line for three to four years at an average annual salary north of $10MM.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes profiled Ellsbury earlier this morning, noting that he's an ownership-level decision that could be signed despite a GM's protest. Tim projected a whopping seven-year, $150MM contract for Ellsbury, expecting agent Scott Boras to be able to convince at least one Major League owner that Ellsbury deserves more than Carl Crawford received three offseasons ago.
9:18am: WEEI.com's Alex Speier agrees with Dierkes' report and adds that Mike Napoli will receive a qualifying offer. Napoli batted .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs this season, silencing doubts that the avascular necrosis (AVN) discovered in each of his hips last season would lead to an early decline for the slugger. Following a strong season that proved his health, Napoli is a lock to reject that offer and test the market, though he could still re-sign with Boston.
Napoli will be one the premier first basemen and sources of right-handed pop on this year's free agent market, with Dierkes suggesting a three-year, $42MM offer is attainable on the open market. With the qualifying offer attached, any team that selects outside the Top 11 in the 2014 draft will have to forfeit a first-round pick to sign him (the Top 11 would forfeit a second-round selection). In turn, the Red Sox would receive a compensatory pick at the end of the first round.
Saltalamacchia, 29, posted the best season of his career in 2013, slashing .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers in a career-high 470 plate appearances. He also tied a career best by playing in 121 games for the second consecutive season.
Tim projected a four-year, $36MM contract for Saltalamacchia in free agency this season, although that was under the assumption that he would be tied to draft pick compensation. If Saltalamacchia does not receive a qualifying offer from Boston, he could surpass that projection, as teams would not be required to surrender a first- or second-round draft pick in order to sign him.
The Red Sox plan on extending qualifying offers to Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That Ellsbury will receive a qualifying offer is no surprise; he currently ranks second on MLBTR's Free Agent Power Rankings and is commonly thought to be the No. 2 free agent on the market behind Robinson Cano.
Likewise, the news that Napoli and Drew will receive qualifying offers is none too surprising. Napoli is one of the top power bats on this year's free agent market, and the $14.1MM value of a qualifying offer would be just a $1.1MM raise on the $13MM he earned in 2013 after hitting all of the incentives on his one-year contract.
Drew earned $9.5MM in 2013, so the risk is somewhat more substantial for the Red Sox, especially considering the fact that they have Xander Bogaerts in tow as the shortstop of the future. However, Drew should be able to secure a multiyear contract in what is, as always, a thin class of free agent shortstops. He and Jhonny Peralta are the only two free agents that could be realistically expected to hold down an everyday shortstop role in 2014.
Napoli batted .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in his first season with the Red Sox, appearing in 139 games (578 plate appearances) and showing no signs of ill effect from his recent diagnosis of avascular necrosis (AVN) in each of his hips. Napoli has already gone on record as saying he'd like to return to Boston, though he's unlikely to accept the qualifying offer, knowing that the Red Sox (and the rest of the market) value him more highly than that. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projects that he'll sign a three-year, $42MM contract this offseason.
Though he slumped in the postseason, Drew slashed a strong .253/.333/.443 with 13 regular-season home runs. His overall line is boosted by a sizzling second half in which he batted .276/.356/.481 with eight of his 13 homers. UZR/150 pegged his shortstop defense as 6.7 runs above average.
Absent from the list of free agents expected to receive qualifying offers is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Heyman writes that at this time, it's unclear as to whether or not the Red Sox will be comfortable tendering the 29-year-old a one-year, $14.1MM offer. I'd expect that Salty will receive the offer as well, and Tim agreed in his free agent profile of Saltalamacchia, pegging him for four years and $36MM even with draft pick compensation attached.
The Red Sox can clinch a world title at Fenway Park for the first time in 95 years if they win tonight's Game Six against the Cardinals. Though all eyes are focused on the World Series, here are a few hot stove notes out of Boston…
- Xander Bogaerts' strong World Series has more or less cemented his place in the Red Sox lineup next season, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Bogaerts' right-handed bat and ability to play shortstop gives the Sox breathing room in case Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli aren't brought back, and Britton doesn't think the team will bother bringing in a veteran to compete with Bogaerts at shortstop.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia reiterated that he wants to stay with the Red Sox over the long term but he admitted to ESPN Boston's Joe McDonald that he may have played his last game for the team. "You don’t want to leave but at the same time it’s one of those things where it’s baseball. If it goes in that direction you can’t control it. I haven’t thought too much of a destination, but it’s definitely hit me a few times that this could be the last time," Saltalamacchia said. The catcher has had a tough postseason both offensively and defensively and was benched for Games Four and Five of the World Series. Though MLBTR's Tim Dierkes' prediction of a four-year, $36MM free agent contract for "Salty" was made before the playoffs began, the catching market is thin enough that Saltalamacchia's October struggles probably won't hurt him that much.
- Theo Epstein has kept a low profile during the World Series but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes that Epstein deserves credit for building the core of this Red Sox team during his tenure as general manager, not to mention helping groom current GM Ben Cherington.
- Would the Red Sox still be in the World Series if Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, Hiroki Kuroda, Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz and Joakim Soria had been their big additions of the 2012-13 offseason? WEEI.com's Rob Bradford looks at how the Sox considered all of these names last winter.
- Whatever luster Boston may have lost as a free agent destination last offseason has surely been regained by the club's success, manager John Farrell told repoters (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier).
- The Red Sox improved team chemistry surely helped their turn-around but a few league executives tell The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro that the narrative has been bit overblown. The Diamondbacks are a team that seem to be ranking chemistry as a high priority and other clubs may follow in seeking out good clubhouse personalities like Jonny Gomes, “but if people think [Gomes] is the new market inefficiency, they are going to be disappointed," an NL executive says.
Nolan Ryan accomplished a lot of good for the Rangers during his tenure as the club's president and CEO, but his retirement may also be a positive, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler writes. The Hall-of-Famer's departure will eliminate any tension that existed in upper management between Ryan and GM Jon Daniels, and Daniels knows he now has full reign over baseball decisions.
Here's the latest out of Arlington…
- The Rangers expect Joe Nathan to void their $9.5MM club option on his services for 2014 and the club will consider other internal closing options, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports. While Daniels didn't fully close the door on re-signing Nathan, his recent comments about not committing major dollars to the bullpen seems to hint that Texas could move on from the veteran closer. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently profiled Nathan's free agency case and predicted Nathan would fetch a deal in the two-year, $26MM range this offseason.
- Also from Sullivan, he opines that former Rangers Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be targeted for returns to the club. Texas is looking for a right-handed bat and for a new catcher this offseason.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Charlie Wilmoth spotlighted the Rangers in the most recent edition of our Offseason Outlook series.
On Friday it was reported that the Yankees are expected to be serious players for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. While many teams figure to be in the mix, the New York Post's Joel Sherman offered up a look at why the Yankees, specifically, will be motivated to sign Tanaka. Here are some of the highlights from Sherman's latest work…
- The Yankees want to re-energize their fanbase and generate interest in buying tickets again, and adding Tanaka would allow them to do so without shattering the luxury tax threshold, as the posting fee wouldn't go against that figure. Sherman spoke with multiple executives who told him that each team is set to receive about $25MM from national TV revenue, and the Yankees also received a good chunk of money when News Corp. bought 49 percent of the YES Network. As Sherman puts it: "The Yanks have a big pile of newfound money to use lavishly for a posting bid."
- Sherman also lists the Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays as suitors for Tanaka.
- The Yankees may be extra-motivated to sign Tanaka due to the fact that many within the organization believe Hiroki Kuroda is leaning toward returning to Japan to finish his career.
- In a separate piece, Sherman writes that Boston's decision on whether or not to tender qualifying offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will shape the market. Sherman spoke with four Major League executives — two from the AL and two from the NL — and asked about the Red Sox quartet's chances at receiving a qualifying offer. All four agreed that Ellsbury will receive one. Both AL execs and one of the NL expected Napoli to receive an offer, while just one of the NL execs thought that Drew and Saltalamacchia would get offers. Sherman offers his own expectation as well, predicting that all four will receive qualifying offers.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was one of the ten most valuable catchers in baseball in 2013, and he had the best overall year of any free agent backstop. The former first-round draft pick hits free agency with youth on his side.
Among catchers, Salty is one of the biggest power threats in the game, ranking fifth with 55 home runs since 2011. He also ranks first in isolated power and third in slugging percentage. He put up a career-best .466 SLG this year, banging out 54 extra-base hits. A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia hit .294/.350/.523 against righties this year.
Saltalamacchia's walk rate continued to rise, as his 9.1% this year was his best since 2008. He hit a career-best .273, and coupled with the walks, his .338 on-base percentage was also his best since '08. Among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, Saltalamacchia's .804 OPS ranked sixth in all of baseball, even topping Brian McCann.
Salty is above average at blocking pitches, according to the RPP stat at FanGraphs. Additionally, his pitch framing skills were worth 23 runs from 2007-11, according to an article by Mike Fast for Baseball Prospectus. He's seen as the leader of the Boston pitching staff, and has their trust.
Saltalamacchia doesn't turn 29 years old until May, and is one of only a handful of free agents who will be under 30 in 2014. As agent Jim Munsey pitches Salty on the free agent market, his client's youth is a big asset compared to someone like Carlos Ruiz or A.J. Pierzynski.
A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia struggles mightily against left-handed pitching, with a .206/.269/.338 line since 2011. In his three years with the Red Sox, they benched him against southpaws only in 2012, when Kelly Shoppach was on board for most of the season. It's likely Salty would have batted less against lefties this year had backup David Ross not spent 74 days on the DL. Many players have platoon splits, but Saltalamacchia's is more extreme than other catchers on the free agent market.
Saltalamacchia regularly strikes out in 30% of his plate appearances. Among all players with 400 plate appearances in 2013, Salty's 29.6% strikeout rate is the ninth-worst. Of those bottom nine, most hit below .235, and his .273 average does not seem repeatable. From 2011-12, Saltalamacchia hit .228/.288/.452 across 834 plate appearances, a more reasonable expectation moving forward. A .290 OBP is below-average even for a catcher; as a group, they're at .310 this year.
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 earned $4.5MM this year, so a qualifying offer would triple his salary. Still, it's likely he'd decline and take his best shot at a multiyear deal elsewhere, even with the loss of leverage from having a draft pick attached. It's easy enough to justify the loss of a draft pick to sign McCann, but less so for Saltalamacchia, especially with Ruiz and Pierzynski as alternatives.
Saltalamacchia, who has the longest last name in Major League history at 14 letters, resides in Wellington, Florida with his wife Ashley and daughters Sidney, Hunter Riley, and Sloan. He received the Good Guy Award from Boston writers after the 2012 season, and serves as a Jimmy Fund co-captain as one of his many charitable contributions. Jarrod is extremely involved in charitable work, and truly enjoys it. His hobbies include hunting and fishing, according to the Red Sox media guide.
Saltalamacchia was a key figure in the legendary July 2007 trade that also sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison from the Braves to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. Three years later, he was traded to Boston.
"I don't want to go anywhere else," Saltalamacchia told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe in May. Given his familiarity with their pitching and coaching staff, Salty provides extra value for the Red Sox, and it seems likely they'll attempt to retain him. In the organization, the Red Sox have Blake Swihart, who finished at High-A, Christian Vazquez, who spent most of the year at Double-A, and 26-year-old Ryan Lavarnway, who has played at Triple-A in each of the last three seasons and has caught 58 games in the bigs. Lavarnway could be the immediate answer, though he slugged just .350 at Triple-A this year, and the pitching staff might not be thrilled throwing regularly to such an inexperienced catcher. Even if the Sox need to sign a veteran catcher this winter, they seem to have enough depth to limit their offer to Saltalamacchia to three years.
In my Carlos Ruiz free agent profile, I mentioned the Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Braves as potential fits. Saltalamacchia's struggles against left-handed pitching could give the Phillies pause, while the "bridge appears quite charred in both directions" regarding a potential return to Texas, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. It's also hard to picture a return to the Braves, who will probably piece something more affordable together assuming McCann leaves. Though the Jays could look to improve upon J.P. Arencibia, would they replace him with a different high-strikeout, potentially low-OBP catcher like Saltalamacchia, possibly at the expense of their second-round draft pick? The Yankees are a viable landing spot, though perhaps not at four years. The White Sox may be a potential dark horse, with potential platoon partners in-house in the form of Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley. Free agent alternatives to Saltalamacchia will include McCann, Ruiz, Pierzynski, and Dioner Navarro.
The floor on Saltalamacchia is probably three years and $24MM or so. ESPN's Keith Law recently wrote he thinks the market will offer Saltalamacchia a four-year deal, perhaps in the range of $10MM per year. The remaining question is which team would reasonably do so. Though I've yet to identify a club I think will go four years on Saltalamacchia, I agree that he will eventually find it, and I'm predicting a four-year, $36MM deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Orioles fans and fans all around the game were disheartened to see what looked to be a severe knee injury for ultra-talented third baseman Manny Machado in yesterday's loss to the Rays. Machado had an MRI today, and manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, that he's optimistic and confident Machado will be able to play with the team early next season. According to Ghiroli, the radiologist's early opinion of the MRI is that the injury wasn't as severe as it initially looked. Injuries were the story of the game for the O's, who also saw Alexi Casilla suffer a likely concussion after an outfield collision. Casilla, a soon-to-be free agent, is likely done for the season, according to Ghiroli. Here's more on the AL East…
- Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looks at the pending free agents who have boosted their value the most with strong 2013 seasons. Law feels that Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Red Sox is the most likely candidate to sign an extension that will "shocK everybody" this offseason due to the scarcity of quality catching options. Law also lists Orioles' hurler Scott Feldman, noting he has a much-improved curveball and could sign a contract in the range of three years and $20-25MM. Last week, I predicted Feldman would sign for two years and $17MM, with Jeremy Guthrie's three-year, $25MM deal being his ceiling.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the left field position for the Blue Jays, which could be a position of need this winter if they decline the option on Adam Lind or trade him, putting Melky Cabrera in the DH spot. After breaking down the internal options, BN-S looks at external options which include re-signing Rajai Davis and making a play for the likes of David DeJesus or Corey Hart.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun shares the story of Orioles reliever Darren O'Day and his unorthodox background. O'Day, 31 in October, has a 2.19 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 67 relief appearances this season.
- Brian Roberts knows that his time with the Orioles may be coming to an end, and he's trying to embrace the remaining time he has with the team, writes Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Roberts adds that he hopes 2013 isn't the end of his tenure in Baltimore but admits that he has o idea if he's in the team's future plans.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Koji Uehara's run of 37 straight batters retired came to an end last night, falling eight men shy of Mark Buehrle's absurd Major League record of 45 consecutive batters retired. Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus breaks down Uehara's streak (with some help from Dan Brooks of Brooksbaseball.net), looking at several at-bats along the way and calculating that, based on the projected rest-of-season OBPs of the hitters that Uehara faced, the average pitcher has a 0.000056 percent chance of retiring those 37 batters consecutively. Here's more on the Red Sox…
- General manager Ben Cherington may have gone 6-for-7 in terms of free agent signings this offseason, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman lists Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew as wins, and that's not including the cheap pick-up of Mike Carp. Other teams are taking note of the blueprint, with one Mets official telling Heyman there's "a lot of merit" to Cherington's approach. Heyman points out that even with the $8MM worth of incentives to Napoli, the total free agent commitment of $108.2MM is about $17MM less than Josh Hamilton's contract on its own.
- Ian Browne of MLB.com believes the Red Sox are probably more comfortable trying to retain Jarrod Saltalamacchia than trying to bring in a free agent or trade target to rebuild the excellent rapport that Saltalamacchia has established with the team's pitching staff.
- Within that same Inbox piece, Browne speculates that the team likely isn't comfortable going to six or seven years for Jacoby Ellsbury as a free agent, having learned the hard way from the Carl Crawford contract.
- Browne also writes that it's all but certain that the Red Sox will non-tender Andrew Bailey this offseason. Bailey earned $4.1MM this season and would've been in line for a slight raise via arbitration because he pitched well prior to being lost for the season due to injury once again. The team could still look to bring Bailey back at a reduced rate, but Uehara will be Boston's closer in 2014, Browne writes definitively.