Jarrod Saltalamacchia, one of Boston’s nine arbitration eligible players*, has been secured for the 2013 season. Salty and and Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.5 million deal on Thursday, which means for now Boston will have three catchers – Saltalamacchia, David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway.
Salty can help his case this year and bolster his value for a longer-term stay in Boston by doing three things:
1. Cut down on his strikeouts. In 2012 Salty struck out a career high 139 times in 448 plate appearances, nearly 30 percent of his at bats.
2. Going hand-in-hand with the above stat, find a way to break the long hitting droughts that plagued him last year and contributed to a limp slash line of .222/.288/.454/.742.
3. Work on becoming a better defensive catchers. A good base stealer can pretty much run at will on him.
To his credit, when Salty was in a groove last year he had some pop, hitting 25 homers, by far his best homer numbers in his six-year major league career.
Platooning with Ross and/or Lavarnway – personally, I think Ross will be Boston’s regular backup catcher, especially if he has a solid spring – should keep Salty fresh and perhaps allow him to exercise more plate discipline and ultimately provide more value to the club.
* Boston’s eight remaining arbitration eligible players are right-handers pitchers Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, and Joel Hanrahan, left-handers Craig Breslow, Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales, and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.