Miami has announced the release of struggling catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Marlins were not able to find a trade partner for the recently-designated backstop, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Twitter. He will hit the open market after clearing release waivers.
The news rates as at least a mild surprise. Miami had hoped to find a team to pick up at least some of the approximately $6MM left on his 2015 salary, to say nothing of the $8MM owed next year. Several clubs were reported to be in talks with the Fish, but apparently none were willing to offer enough value to warrant a deal.
Salty is a virtual certainty to clear release waivers and reach free agency, given that any claiming team would need to take on his contract. That will afford the clubs with prior interest an opportunity to add him at a pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary.
It has been a swift fall from grace for Saltalamacchia, who like several recent free agents before him simply never panned out in Miami. He has slashed a meager .209/.310/.351 over his 468 plate appearances since joining the club, a far cry from his .243/.307/.455 output over four seasons with the Red Sox.
Despite his troubles on offense and generally poorly-regarded work behind the plate, Saltalamacchia has a rare track record of useful production from the left side of the plate. The switch-hitter managed a .707 OPS last year against right-handers, making him a potentially appealing platoon mate for multiple teams around the league.
While several young backstops (J.T. Realmuto, Austin Hedges, Blake Swihart) have been promoted in recent weeks, there is still a dearth of offensively-useful catchers in the game. Among those who have seen at least twenty turns at bat this year, just 19 have registered above-average batting production. Meanwhile, injuries to players such as Matt Wieters, Travis d’Arnaud, Ryan Hanigan, and Christian Vazquez have sapped the overall depth around the game.