Nov 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia holds the World Series trophy during the World Series parade and celebration. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

With Ruiz Off The Market, Red Sox Should Prioritize Saltalamacchia

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.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Jarrod Saltalamacchia

  • Rick M

    I’m not a big fan of CERA but Ross checks in at 3.17 and Salty 3.88. That 3.88 isn’t that bad.

    I’d rather overpay a bit on a short term contract rather than go long on a McCann.

    • Michael Macaulay-Birks

      I couldn’t agree more

      • John Fahrer

        McCann and his career .350 OBP would still be a way better option than Mark Trumbo and his career .299 OBP.

    • John Fahrer

      Thing is now that Ruiz has gotten a three year deal at age 34 and only so-so offensively, it’s doubtful Saltalamacchia takes anything less. In fact he’ll probably remain entrenched at wanting four years.

      McCann would be fine if the total is no more than $90 million. They could move him to 1B/DH once both Swihart and Vazquez are up. The career .350 OBP is very attractive.

      • Conor Duffy

        I wouldn’t be too upset with McCann if they sign him for under $90 million. However, I would prefer a shorter, cheaper commitment to Salty. 4 years/$36 million would be reasonable IMO.

        • John Fahrer

          There’s a huge difference between a 4+ year deal for Salty and a 4+ deal for McCann. In the case of Salty, he’d be blocking the path for Vazquez and Swihart as his offensive value is based on the fact he plays catcher. Having him move to 1B and DH would leave a lot to be desired. Since McCann has a much better OBP and consistent HR and RBI production, he could make a more productive transition to 1B/DH down the road.

          It seems the club wants a lefty bat to platoon with Ross in 2013, platoon with Vazquez in 2014, and be gone or at a different position by 2015 to make room for Swihart.

      • Rick M

        Rather pay Salty for half that and allocate the remainder to Ellsbury and/or Drew.

        • John Fahrer

          Only would want Salty back for two, maybe three years. Any more than that would be a roadblock to their catching prospects. And Salty really doesn’t put up the kind of offense to be a viable 1B/DH option.

    • Jimmy Buffett

      You ain’t seen nuthin yet, salty will be worse in 2014 than he was in 2013.

  • Jimmy Buffett

    Actually they should move forward on replacing Salty. I know a little league catcher that would do a better job than him.