What do you do with Jarrod Saltalamacchia? If his second half failings of 2012 were repeated, it would be a rather moot point – just let him play the market and determine if you wish to enter the bidding sweepstakes. 2013 has changed that. So far, no crash and burn.
Salty, to save wear and tear on a keyboard, is having a nice offensive run. Sure he rings up the K’s at a frustrating 31% rate, but he is hitting. His stat line of .270/.339/.789 will not bring back memories of Carlton Fisk, but certainly is in the range of a Jason Varitek. Toss in his extra base totals and consistent second half numbers and you have someone in the upper echelon of AL offensive catcher stats.
Defensively I examine the metrics and see some ominous minus signs appear but is it that bad? Salty is in the middle of the AL pack (Qualified) defensively. Not bad. His CS% is 20% but has been as high as 31% in his Sox tenure. Not a defensive deal breaker to me. His CERA (Catcher ERA) is 3.97. His defensive WAR is a 0.0. There may be no Golden Glove or Silver Slugger in Salty’s future but what you do have is a competent catcher.
I view this as a conundrum for management. Do you break the bank for a Brian McCann? Do you let him walk and move on? Do you risk the chance that you will have an opportunity to counter offer? Frankly, Ryan Lavarnway does instill a bit of angst for this observer. The remaining minor league crop appears a few seasons away from being a significant factor, so the current tandem of Salty and David Ross might just be the way to go.
Since I have no insight into the negotiation war room of Sox management I will take that leap of faith and assume the Sox have a desire to retain his services. Salty had been on their target list since back in his Atlanta days, so the attachment is there. Salty has also professed a desire to remain here and that could be a big plus for Boston in the negotiation game. This may be one of those situations once where market value is established negotiations begin with Boston. The figures seem reasonable they may just re-up Salty.
Salty is in the right place at the right time regarding his free agency. A catcher having a productive season. His age – 29 – makes longer contract years less of a risk and that works in his favor.
On a personal note, I have grown rather fond of Salty and wish him well here or elsewhere.