While it's nice to see the generally likable Salty cash in, it's hard to really like the deal for Boston. Given that a player like Miguel Montero made just $2 million in his first year of arbitration, seeing Salty come in over that figure after signing with the team on a split contract in 2010 is a bit odd. As much as the narrative painted a nice picture for Salty with his big mid-summer hits outshining a late-year slump overshadowed by the rest of the team, taken as a whoel his year with the team wasn't the most impressive between a .288 OBP and questionable defense.
Generally speaking, you're supposed to give a player around half of his free agency value at this point in arbitration. Can anyone see Salty drawing $5-6 million a year on the open market? Keep in mind that neither Miguel Olivo nor Yorvit Torrealba drew that last year despite having similar or superior production in 2010.
Meanwhile, Roman Mendez struck out 130 batters in 117 innings in the South Atlantic League, and was named a top-10 prospect in the Rangers' system. His B grade would make him top-7 in ours, mixed in with the likes of Jacobs, Cecchini, Lavarnway, and Middlebrooks.
This isn't to bag too heavily on Salty. He did somewhat well for us last year, and could build upon his summertime success in 2012. It just always seems like we're paying more than we should have to for him. And in a year where the budget seems so tight, it's a bit baffling to do it here.
NOTE: Apparently it's Salty's second year of arbitration, which makes it slightly more understandable.