May 1, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross (3) talks to starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) during a break in the action against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox Reportedly Looking for an Upgrade Over Salty


The Red Sox just cruised into May with the best record in the Majors, yet apparently they are already considering some changes. In particular, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in replacing Jarrod Saltalamacchia and getting an upgrade in the catching department. ESPN’s Buster Olney dropped this bomb, seemingly out of nowhere, on The Mut & Merloni Radio Show on Wednesday.

Apr 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia throws out Houston Astros center fielder Robbie Grossman on a chopper in front of the plate during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The 28-year-old backstop has been Boston’s starting catcher since 2011, having been acquired from Texas the year before. The switch-hitter is off to a fairly mundane start this season, hitting at just .232, but with a .321 OBP and a .435 SLG percentage (right in line with his career norms), it likely isn’t his bat that the front office is concerned about.

There has always been some concern over Salty’s defense, even though it has improved over the years. He’s always been average at nabbing would-be base stealers. Not to mention it was a difficult year in 2011 after Saltalamacchia took over the catching duties from Jason Varitek, and it had a discernible effect on the pitching staff. Sox manager John Farrell even griped about the catcher’s errant throw in Toronto, claiming he should have called interference on the umpire immediately, and that he should have known the rule, instead of allowing play to continue.

Given his relatively league average bat, it’s understandable for the Red Sox to seek a defensive improvement, especially considering how valuable a great defensive catch can be. The offseason acquisition of David Ross is a prime example of just that; his defensive prowess behind the plate is well-known, and he’s thrown out thirty percent of base runners this season. Yet, given his age and the fact that he hasn’t played in more than 62 games since 2007, the Sox probably aren’t looking to give him a vastly expanded role.

With Ross signed to a two-year deal, the Sox would probably just be looking for a temporary upgrade. Another Braves catcher could fit the bill quite nicely, Brian McCann is due to be a free agent after this year, but has unfortunately begun the year on the disabled list, however Evan Gattis’ emergence may have forced McCann out of a job. Ryan Lavarnway, who is off to a great start at AAA Pawtucket, has floundered in each of his big league opportunities, but could also replace Saltalamacchia.

Unfortunately, no matter how unhappy Boston might be with Salty’s performance, there isn’t much they can do about it now. Perhaps later in the year a market will emerge for Saltalamacchia and the Sox can find a taker, and potentially the Red Sox can find a suitable replacement.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Featured Jarrod Saltalamacchia Popular

  • Willy W

    I have been “complaining” about Salty & wanting to trade him for a while now. Also on several occasions & on multiple sites I have brought up the fact that the Sox lack “Quality” depth at Catcher & 1st base and that Ben MUST find a way to rectify this & the sooner the better. Now finding a solid “all around” good Catcher isnt easy. Players like Posey, maybe Weiters dont grow on trees, in fact they are rare today BUT Ben Must do whatever it takes to find a Catcher as close to those guys as he can, failing to do so will be detrimental for years to come. The Sox do have some prospects & extra players with which to se in trade, my question is, is Ben C. the right man to get the job done? Im not so sure.

    • Harry Burnham

      Well let’s not forget that Posey and Wieters were both taken fifth overall, one year apart. The Red Sox havent had a top ten pick since 1993, so this year could be the year the Sox acquire some “quality,” one name that intrigues me in the department you mentioned, catcher, is Jon Denney, a guy who could fall right into Boston’s hands, Someone like DJ Peterson, Austin Meadows or even Kris Bryant could be intriguing at 1B, but those guys could be a stretch. And Frankly, I would rather see us take a pitcher, a Ryne Stanek type, that early on.
      It doesnt solve much at catcher, but with Bogaerts in the wings, and Napoli only around for one more year, it’s possible that either Bogaerts or Middlebrooks moves to first, as their bats profile better on the corners anyways. In my ideal world, something like that happens, with Napoli signing on for a few more years as a DH/1B after David Ortiz leaves the team. This isnt outside the realm of possibility given that Xander is only 20.
      Let’s also not forget that the Sox do have a couple of interesting guys moving up the system. Christian Vazquez is a great defender, with super human pop times, which could mean more to the team and pitching staff than an elite bat. Blake Swihart reminds me of a Craig Biggio/Jason Varitek mashup with his athletic frame and ability to hit from both sides of the plate, but he may be forced to move off the position. Travis Shaw is also a name that doesnt come up much. The lumbering first baseman might carve out a place for himself if he starts to hit for serious power.
      On another note, you hit the nail right on the head in your comment, these elite catching types dont grow on trees, and frankly there are only 3-5 of these guys in the Majors or close to, so it’s a struggle for the Sox to get an elite talent at a premium position, especially in this era of HUGE extensions.

      Sorry for the long winded response!
      Thanks for your comments!

      • Willy W

        I am aware how high of a draft pick those catchers were. I wasnt talking about filling these positions through the draft & I didnt on purpose Because they have needs NOW & the drafted player takes years to develop in most cases. I do know of & like Vazquez but I see him as a good Backup catcher & never as a full time back stop. Swihart is still a project & as you said he may not stick at Catcher which I am aware of as well. Time will tell.

        So with the “Prospects” out of the picture for now the Needs are still the same, adding a quality Catcher for Now & the future because Salty isnt that guy & a 1st basemen ( it can be Napoli) but as i sai to a guy on Twitter, we could try to re-up him for longer But I see the Sox offering another “protective” contract to Naps because of his hip condition. The big problem with that is we all know there will be a team out there dumb enough to offer a straight up Cash deal with No protective language. Which contract would you sign?

        I know you mentioned having Napoli take over at DH when Ortiz retires or whatever but that’s assuming we can even re-sign Napoli. DH isnt a position Ive ever worried about because you can usually catch a decent hitter near the end of his career to fill the hole for a year or two.

        As for moving guys to other positions, I believe in this & have said I would move Will to 1st & move Bogaerts to 3rd( or vice versa) as I see either Iggy playing SS or Marrero instead.
        IMO if the Sox really want to acquire an “Impact” C or 1st basemen theyll need to trade someone like Cechinni & a pitcher or two, which I would be ok with depending on who the pitcher is.

        • Harry Burnham

          I think youre bang smack on, those two guys are “maybes” at this point, and Vazquez is probably a backup at best. I know you didnt mention filling catcher through the draft, i just thought id mention what it takes to acquire an elite talent like that.
          I think on the Napoli case, if he plays well, he will have a few offers, but there is something about the allure of Boston that guys like. If he loves fenway, as long as are the Sox are in the right neighborhood monetarily, theyll get a deal done. youre right that sometimes money wins, but i wont count my chickens until they hatch.
          I am right with you though, that if the sox want a good/elite catcher theyre gonna have to give something up, and since cecchinni looks blocked, but also looks very talented, hes a great place to start. (Im also glad you agree on the moving WMB or Bogaerts, as ive had more than a few disagreements with people over that one)
          Thanks for reading! and for commenting!

          • stephenepeterson

            Spirited conversation all. Gives us some much more to consider going forward. Great stuff!

    • Michael Macaulay-Birks

      I would challenge you to name an appropriate AVAILABLE alternative…we have a couple of “maybe’s” in the minors (Vazquez and Swihart), but we know how that goes…teams don’t trade catchers with value (except the Jays, lol)…as for 1st Base, Middlebrooks will be the 1b once Bogarts is ready to take over 3rd….next year

      • Willy W

        It isnt my job to find the Diamond in the rough or the next great player, that’s Ben’s job. All Im saying is he cant fall asleep at the switch & ignore the fact that we dont have quality depth @ 1st base & Catcher. It isnt a given, only Speculation that 1 guy will be moved to 1st, the other to 3rd. So far the Sox have been Dead set against moving Boggy to any other position. Also, Boggy probably wont be ready next year, he’s only 20.

        • stephenepeterson

          Due to his youth, Bogaerts is actually still growing. There has been speculation that if he continues to grow and pack on a few more pounds his hands and feet may not be MLB quality and that a move to the outfield may also be in play. That’s why we watch and talk.

          • Willy W

            I am aware of this & have already talked about it But as I said above, the Sox have been dead set against moving him to any other position at this time. Easy for us to speculate but the decision is ultimately Ben’s…
            Also, this article has nothing to do with Bogaerts & everything to do with Salty, Lavarnway or any proposed catching acquisition.

  • Michael Macaulay-Birks

    well, well well…. the red sox have the best record in baseball after being written off by everyone in mid-December….and Buster Onley rears his yankee fanboy head to find something to stir the pot….shame on him and shame on you for “reporting” it…if someone in the sox front office says it, then it’s news….so Salty isn’t the second coming of Pudge Rodriguez…neither was Mark Belhorn, Pokey Reese, Kevin Millar, Doug Mientkiewicz, Gabe Kapler etc. etc. etc. At 19-8, cant you find something positive to “report”? That Drew and Middlebrooks seem to be coming out of their month long slumber? That Napoli hit 920 ft. worth of homers last night?…or that Busholtz is the best pitcher in the game right now? You propose McCann as an alternative ….. a player who has been on the DL for the better part of the last season and a half and hitting .200 when he wasn’t (with 20 HR) on the DL? There was a time when McCann was a good catcher…that time has passed IMO, of course

    • Harry Burnham

      Thanks for commenting,
      Well, Brian McCann has always been a defense-first catcher, so arguably, as long as he can call a game, he has a leg up on Salty if he can hit about .200 to .250.
      Please also dont forget that those five guys also delivered one, if not two, world championships to Boston, something Saltalamacchia has never accomplished.
      Buster Olney is about as good of a journalist as you can find, and if he says it, it’s probably coming from somewhere real. As far as our writing goes, it’s our responsibility to do our due diligence on every topic that comes up, hence the Saltalamacchia article.

      • Willy W

        Id ignore him. Its ignorant to make a comment like that, afterall he didnt have to read the article at all & you can write about whatever or whoever you choose.

        • Michael Macaulay-Birks

          Good thing the author needs your goading….and if you didn’t like my comment, you didn’t have to re comment, much like your suggestion that I not read the article…go home now the streetlights are on

          • Willy W

            Goading, obviously you dont know what that means because I did nothing of the sort.
            You’re wrong, misplaced… so you turn to name calling & stupid remarks, great.
            Im not a grade school kid, if you bothered to read what Ive written you’d see that. Im in my mid 40′s, hardly a kid so stop TROLLING & find someone else to pester.

    • Willy W

      What difference does it make who or what is written about the Sox? And who says everything has to be positive? Journalism isnt supposed to be a love affair with teams & players, its about opinions, perspectives…

      Who the hell is Busholtz? I think you mean BUCHHOLZ. And I think he’s been written about enough.
      If you dont like an article, dont read it.

      • Michael Macaulay-Birks

        thanks for the spelling lesson Meriam

      • stephenepeterson

        Easy boys. Let’s play fair and be nice. All opinions are welcome. It’s what make baseball stew so delicious!

    • stephenepeterson

      Excellent points. Reporting of the reporting is sometimes what we do here at BSI to ensure we’re providing a well rounded picture of the circumstances. You passion is what makes Red Sox Nation and our work so rewarding. Stay involved and write on! :)

  • Paul Prims

    If they want to replace Salty, do it with Lavarnway. I t’s time once and for all to see what they have with him. You have the veteran Ross here to mentor him so this is the perfect opportunity to see if Ryan is a long term solution. I’d do that rather than trade prospects for what would likely be only a slight upgrade.