Boston Red Sox could have interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia


The Miami Marlins made a surprising move on Monday by designating struggling catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment. Could the Boston Red Sox be open to a reunion with their former catcher?

Miami has 10 days to either trade or release Saltalamacchia. If they release him, the fish will be on the hook for the remaining $14.2 million left on the contract they signed him to prior to last season. A trade partner would seem unlikely for a player that will likely clear waivers, but a few teams could have interest if he’s available for the league minimum.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the Red Sox are among the potential landing spots for Saltalamacchia. The organization’s familiarity with him is the primary reason for the speculation tying the catcher to the team, given that he spent parts of four seasons in Boston following a mid-season acquisition from the Texas Rangers in 2010. The Red Sox let Saltalamacchia walk following the 2013 season because they were unwilling to commit a multi-year deal to a veteran catcher when they had promising young talent in the pipeline at that position.

The season-ending injury to Christian Vazquez could lead to the Red Sox having a change of heart, especially if he can be brought in cheap. Duties behind the plate have been split between Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon this season, but the pair have combined to hit only .203/.338/.266 so far. Neither has a recent history of being a primary catcher, while Saltalamacchia has played in over 100 games in each of the past 4 seasons.

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Boston could be interested if they view Salty as an upgrade over Leon, but he showed no evidence this year that he actually would be an improvement. He’s 2-for-29 at the plate (.069) with 12 strikeouts for the Marlins this year. The sample size is as minuscule as a minnow, but Salty is coming off an unproductive 2014 season in which he hit only .220/.320/.362 in his first year in Miami. He also has never been considered a very good defensive catcher, while Leon and Hanigan are both considered to be at least above average.

Even if a move back to Boston would ignite a bounce back at the plate for Salty, it’s unlikely it would be a significant one. Perhaps he would prove to be a slight upgrade over Leon, but there is also significant risk that he could be worse. It doesn’t seem worth taking the chance on him if  it means bailing on Leon already.

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If Leon doesn’t work out, the Red Sox will inevitably call up top catching prospect Blake Swihart. Adding Salty would only provide a roadblock in the path of promoting their bright young prospect or result in the team cutting bait with Salty when they are ready to bring Swihart to the big leagues. There’s no room for both.

If Boston knew they were getting the version of Salty that had an .804 OPS in 2013, surely they could be convinced to bring him back. He’s just not that type of player anymore, which is why Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal believes a reunion with Saltalamacchia seems unlikely.

The status of Saltalamacchia bears watching given the Red Sox weakness behind the dish, but for now they seem only to have mild interest in bringing the catcher back to town.