Earlier today, Carlos Ruiz signed a 3 year/$26 million contract with the Phillies, eliminating the Red Sox’ best chance to acquire a quality catcher on a short term deal. However, the Red Sox still have an opening at the catching position, and with Ruiz off the market, they should go right back to a familiar face: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Since joining the Red Sox at the 2010 trade deadline, Saltalamacchia has consistently improved in all facets of the game. He had the best season of his career in 2013 when he hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs and a team-leading 40 doubles. Saltalamacchia posted career highs in batting average (.273), slugging percentage (.466), on base plus slugging percentage (.803), and walk rate (9.1%). He may have been helped by an artificially high .372 BABIP, but there’s no debating that he had a solid season in 2013.
That’s not even considering that Saltalamacchia has made tremendous strides defensively since joining the Red Sox. According to Fangraphs’ defensive metric, Saltalamacchia’s defense was 7.3 points above average in 2013, and though his caught stealing numbers aren’t good, he is consistently rated well in pitch-framing metrics.
Overall, Saltalamacchia is not a sexy option for the Red Sox. However, it’s difficult to overstate the importance that familiarity with ones’ pitching staff has and Salty has plenty of that. A Red Sox since 2010, he has seen every member of the Red Sox through high points and low. And it’s also worth considering that he may not regress in 2014; after all, he is just 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Considering cost, team presence, and likely performance, it would be tough to find a better starting catcher candidate than Jarrod Saltalamacchia.