Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors
One of the game's most powerful regular catchers is in his contract year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on track to become a free agent the old-fashioned way - by accumulating the necessary six years of Major League service time. Because the Red Sox catcher never signed a multiyear extension, he'll be just 28 when he signs his next contract.
Salty was drafted 36th overall by the Braves in 2003, a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Mike Remlinger. When backup catcher Brayan Pena hit the DL in May of '07, Saltalamacchia got the call. The Braves had Scott Thorman at first base at the time, so Saltalamacchia was able to stick even after Pena returned. Catcher Brian McCann had signed an extension with the Braves months earlier, however, so the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia was prime trade bait in what turned out to be one of the decade's most memorable deals. At the 2007 trade deadline, he was a major part of the Rangers' haul for Mark Teixeira, a deal that also sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones to Texas.
The '07 Rangers had Gerald Laird behind the dish, but first base was vacated with the Teixeira deal. Saltalamacchia split his time evenly between the two positions that year. The two battled for playing time in '08, though both dealt with injuries. Laird was dealt after the season, leaving the Rangers with a tandem of Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Though Salty won the gig, he was sidelined by thoracic outlet syndrome in '09, and the Rangers acquired Ivan Rodriguez in August. Saltalamacchia spent the early part of 2010 recovering from surgery for that condition and battling other injuries, also developing a mental block regarding throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
Though the Rangers' depth at catcher wasn't what they thought it'd become, they still felt comfortable trading Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox that summer for three minor leaguers: first baseman Chris McGuiness, starter Roman Mendez, and catcher Michael Thomas. Only Mendez charted as one of Boston's top 30 prospects according to Baseball America (#23), and it seemed the Rangers were selling low on a player they once regarded very highly. Salty didn't see much time with the Red Sox in 2010, as he battled a lower leg infection and they had Victor Martinez behind the plate.
The Sox still had Jason Varitek in the mix in 2011, but Saltalamacchia did catch in 100 games for the first time. Salty has been the team's primary catcher since then, even with David Ross added this past offseason. Saltalamacchia has compiled a .231/.295/.453 line in 977 plate appearances for the Red Sox from 2011 to present, hitting 46 home runs. Among those who have caught at least 200 games since then, Salty's home run total ranks fifth, and his slugging percentage ranks second. He's lacking in the OBP department, with a .288 mark from 2011-12 reminiscent of Rod Barajas.
Something has changed in that regard, as Saltalamacchia has a respectable .336 OBP so far in 143 plate appearances this year. One driver is his 11.2% walk rate, easily the best of his career if it holds up. He's also hitting for a little higher batting average than usual, which is surprising given the worst strikeout rate of his career (33.6%). That's Adam Dunn/Mark Reynolds territory, and often results in a batting average barely above the Mendoza line. A switch-hitter, Salty has struggled against left-handed pitching, with a .198/.257/.326 line in his career.
Saltalamacchia is firmly regarded as an offense-first catcher, though he's not satisfied with that. He's fairly easy to run on, but statistically might be quietly decent at blocking and framing pitches.
Speaking to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe last week, Saltalamacchia noted that the future is on his mind "In the sense that I don’t want to go anywhere else." Blake Swihart might be Boston's catcher of the future, but he's in High A currently. Ryan Lavarnway, 25, has already caught 38 games for the Sox since '11, more than quieting defensive concerns along the way. He's the biggest threat to Saltalamacchia's future with the team, especially with a solid backup already under contract for '14 in Ross. An everyday catcher, even with some flaws, often commands $6-8MM per year on the free agent market. And as the only regular who will be under 30 years old, Salty and agent Jim Munsey should easily find a multiyear offer. The Red Sox could find big savings in replacing him with Lavarnway.
If he does reach the open market, Saltalamacchia will be competing with John Buck, McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, and Carlos Ruiz for a regular spot somewhere. Salty is significantly younger than the other catchers, aside from former teammate McCann. McCann will have a different market, however, as he could receive a qualifying offer and pursue a contract at or above the four-year, $50MM deal Victor Martinez signed with the Tigers after the 2010 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times expressed concern the Rays don't have enough power in their lineup to compete over the long haul. As if to add an exclamation point to Shelton's column, the Rays were stymied this afternoon by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who was perfect for six innings (79 pitches, 53 for strikes) with six strikeouts. The Rays were on the verge of being the victim of a Spring Training perfect game until an infield single by non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois with one out in the top of the ninth. In other American League news and notes:
- One solution to the Rays' power shortage could be Wil Myers, who was sent to Triple-A yesterday. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, that he believes the timing of Myers' recall will be a baseball decision and not based on service time considerations in order to avoid an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
- The Indians have yet to make a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka even after a meeting this morning between manager Terry Francona and the front office, tweets the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. Francona could speak with Dice-K tomorrow.
- The Indians will approach Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley about contract extensions at some point this spring, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- The trade market for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will be a free agent after this season, is not good, tweets the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
- "The door's not locked. It may not even be cracked open, but it's not locked, either," a Red Sox source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com about the chances of Jackie Bradley Jr. making the Opening Day roster.
- The Yankees only signed Brennan Boesch because he has minor league options remaining, according to ESPN's Buster Olney in his Insider blog (subscription required). Olney added, given the apparent lack of interest in Boesch, the Yankees might have the ability, if he struggles in the next few weeks, to get him through waivers, take him off the 40-man roster, and outright him to the minor leagues.
- The Angels have acquired minor league pitcher Mike Cisco from the Phillies for no compensation. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explains the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A and they wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. The Angels liked him and have a spot for him in their system.
Here's a look at the latest out of the AL East..
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details of Mike Napoli's contract with the Red Sox. The base of the deal is $5MM but incentives could boost the overall value to $13MM. The catcher can either hit the $13MM mark by achieving benchmarks in days on the active roster and plate appearance bonuses or can simply nail a "catch all" by being on the active roster for more than 165 days.
- The Rays would obviously like to keep ace David Price in the fold, but they may not be able to hold on to him long-term. Price says that he would like to find middle ground with the Rays on a contract extension, but cautions that he won't "sell himself short", writes Yahoo's Tim Brown. The American League Cy Young Award winner is set to hit the open market three seasons from now.
- The Red Sox have a logjam behind the plate but they have yet to ask Jarrod Saltalamacchia about playing first base in 2013, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. For his part, Salty says that he feels that catcher is his natural position. The 27-year-old would appear to be a trade candidate given Boston's surplus.
The Red Sox announced that they avoided salary arbitration with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Munsey Sports Management client obtains a one-year, $4.5MM deal for 2013, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports.
Saltalamacchia had a projected salary of $3.9MM following a season in which he hit 25 home runs and posted a .222/.288/.454 batting line in 448 plate appearances. The 27-year-old had been arbitration eligible for the third and final time. He remains on track to hit free agency after the 2013 season.
The Red Sox have eight remaining arbitration eligible players, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Right-handers Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, and Joel Hanrahan, left-handers Craig Breslow, Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales, and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury are also eligible.
News out of the American League East..
- The Red Sox would possibly give up Franklin Morales or Alfredo Aceves in a deal for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. The Pirates, however, may be thinking more along the lines of Felix Doubront, which would be a deal-breaker, according to a major league source. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported Boston's interest in Hanrahan.
- The Red Sox had some inquiries on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but it appears that they may go to spring training with three catchers, plus Mike Napoli, if that deal gets done, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Boston also has free agent pickup David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway slotted in at the catcher position.
- The Rangers' signing of A.J. Pierzynski could shake the catching market loose and spark trade interest in Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox, tweets Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. Pierzynski and Texas agreed to a one-year deal earlier this evening.
- The Yankees did not make an offer to Pierzynski, according to Heyman (via Twitter). The Bombers' plan at present is to go with a combination of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine behind the plate. The Yanks were known to have interest in Pierzynski but were said to be wary of his defense.
A reigning Cy Young winner is on the trade block, and we've got all of today's updates on R.A. Dickey right here, with the newest items added to the top throughout the day:
- The Diamondbacks met with the Mets on Dickey, but talks didn't get far, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino hears the Mets' asking price is very high. He also notes that there's not much happening between the Mets and Blue Jays.
- The Dodgers have talked to the Mets about Dickey, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Gurnick notes that Dickey could be a fallback for Zack Greinke, or maybe the team will just sign both to have three Cy Young winners on the staff. The question is whether the Dodgers have the right players to pull off a deal.
- Talks for Dickey between the Mets and Red Sox were "very preliminary," a Major League source tells WEEI's Alex Speier, and a deal is extremely unlikely.
- There has been strong interest in Dickey today, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but he's heard the Mets did not ask the Red Sox for specific players.
- The Mets met with eight teams today about Dickey, according to Adam Rubin and Joe McDonald of ESPN. The Red Sox were one of those teams, and the Mets wanted Xander Bogaerts andJackie Bradley Jr. in return. We heard earlier that the Sox didn't have interest in Dickey, so perhaps the Mets' exorbitant asking price is playing a part in that lack of interest.
- GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that he's had "preliminary talks" with multiple teams about Dickey and other players, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. According to Alderson, there have been more conversations about Dickey than Niese, though that could change (Twitter link).
- Fair or not, Dickey's age and repertoire is making teams reluctant to give up significant talent for him, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Of course, as Martino adds in a second tweet, it just takes one club to step up and change that. Still, for now, Jonathon Niese is viewed as the more appealing Mets arm, according to Martino.
- Although the Mets are "more than willing" to discuss Dickey, the Red Sox haven't shown any interest, says Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, noting that the Mets could do better than Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Twitterlinks).
- The Mets have gotten "serious" about trading ace knuckleballer Dickey as soon as this week, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark after hearing from a source. Stark says the Rangers and Royals are seen as the most logical fits.
- Earlier today, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted that he believes the Mets "genuinely don't know right now if they'll sign or trade" the NL Cy Young winner. The 38-year-old can become a free agent after the 2013 season.
Let's take a quick look around the league for a few of the morning's odds and ends out of Nashville....
- Giancarlo Stanton remains unhappy with the direction of the Marlins, agent Joel Wolfe tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). "It wasn't a reaction," Wolfe said, referring to Stanton's post-trade tweet last month. "It's a state of mind." Wolfe declined comment when asked if Stanton has requested a trade, according to Heyman (Twitter link).
- The Orioles may have some interest in Garrett Jones and could dangle pitching in trade talks with the Pirates, says Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel adds within the same blog post that at least two American League teams weren't interested when the Pirates came to them to discuss Joel Hanrahan. According to Biertempfel, there are some concerns about Hanrahan's physical conditioning and his late-season performance in 2012.
- The Indians had been "seriously interested" in James Loney before he signed with the Rays, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- Fernando Rodney, who will be a free agent next winter, has switched agents, leaving ACES and hiring Dan Lozano, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
- The Royals' interest in Brett Myers is at the "kicking the tires" stage, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- With a plethora of catchers in the mix, the Red Sox will field offers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman.
As we gear up for an exciting week in Nashville, Tennessee, many are wondering if the Red Sox will make a major move as they look to turn the tide. What are the odds of them making a splash? “I can’t handicap it," General Manager Ben Cherington told reporters, including Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). "You can’t rule it out. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. I think if there’s a deal that we feel really makes the organization stronger short and long term, we’ll pursue it. Some of those could fit into that category.” Here's more out of Boston..
- The Red Sox will try to steer clear of long-term commitments, but team President and CEO Larry Lucchino says that there is no hard line on how many years they might give to a free agent, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Manager John Farrell says that there has been no discussion about moving Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia to first base, Abraham writes. There has been speculation that the Red Sox might trade one of the catchers after signing David Ross last month.
- Neither Cherington nor Farrell are willing to close the door on the possibility of a deal involving Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, or any other starting pitcher on the roster, writes Evan Drellich of MLB.com.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe interviewed Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on a number of Hot Stove topics earlier today, including the pace of the offseason, a pair of Rosses, and the team's bulk of quality catchers. Here are the highlights...
- The Red Sox remain in talks with Cody Ross but are also talking to other corner outfield options as well.
- Boston signed David Ross because Cherington and his colleagues "wanted to have someone as part of the catching group who has been through the wars and has a good feel for the game." Abraham notes that Ross will receive more playing time than a standard backup catcher.
- Cherington expects David Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway all to contribute to the club in 2013, implying that he's not planning on dealing any of his catchers. The plan right now, not surprisingly, is for Saltalamacchia to start with Ross backing up and Lavarnway likely opening the year at Triple-A Pawtucket.
- Cherington doesn't feel that the team is moving at a slow pace thus far this offseason. He tells Abraham that the team is well ahead of where it was at this juncture in 2011: "We’ve spent a lot more time on player issues at this time as compared to last year. That doesn’t always turn into announcements."
- The Red Sox will have a "significant" payroll and will be adding free-agent talent to the team, according to Cherington. He also wouldn't rule out trading prospects for established talent, though he stressed that he'd need to acquire another long-term piece in return if he were to do so.
- Although criticism is warranted, the Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster was a legitimate baseball trade because Miami received plenty of young, high-end talent in return.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was never really in the hunt for Jose Reyes, and he has yet to be overwhelmed with an offer for Justin Upton.
- The Red Sox are more likely to deal Jarrod Saltalamacchia than Ryan Lavarnway in the wake of the David Ross signing, but only if they get a good offer.
- Both the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians while Boston also has some interest in Stephen Drew.
- Carl Pavano was given a clean bill of health in September after missing most of the season with a shoulder problem. His agent Dave Pepe has received a few preliminary calls, and Pavano could sign a minor league deal.
- Most executives love Dan Haren but would not be comfortable offering more than two years given concerns about his back. Most prefer a one-year deal with an option.
- Eight teams, including the Red Sox, have interest in right-hander Jason Grilli according to his agent Gary Sheffield. They have three offers at the moment but are not in a hurry to sign.
- The Indians are looking at Kevin Youkilis at first base while the Phillies and Dodgers like him at third. He's a back-burner option for Los Angeles and although Towers made a call, the Diamondbacks likely won't be involved.