Jarrod Saltalamacchia has signed a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Miami Marlins, ending his time with the Boston Red Sox.
What seemed like it was going to be yesterday's biggest Red Sox news--A.J. Pierzynski coming in, Salty going out--was quickly overshadowed by the Yankees' acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury. But now that we've had the night to calm down, let's take a step back and talk about Saltalamacchia.
Three years and $21 million is a fair sight lower than what many expected Saltalamacchia to sign for coming into the offseason. Particularly when you consider that he didn't have any draft pick connected to his name, with the Red Sox not having made a qualifying offer to their departing catcher. Whether that's because teams were wary of his defensive deficiencies, his wild approach at the plate, or the BABIP red flag that suggested his 2013 performance was due for regression is unclear. All three were highlighted during a terrible postseason which saw him benched for David Ross after throwing Game 3 of the World Series away.
It does make the question of whether the Red Sox should have made that qualifying offer interesting indeed. Particularly when you consider that the team is paying $8.25 million for one year of A.J. Pierzynski, who is hardly an ideal pickup. On the one hand, a three-year, $21 million deal can't make a one-year, $15 million deal look too bad in Jarrod Saltalamacchia's eyes. On the other hand, that may all have been in hindsight for a player who went looking for as many as four years.
For my money, given that it might actually be tough at this point for the Red Sox to fill out their payroll up to the Collective Bargaining Tax threshold of $189 million without going in on risky long-term contracts for players like Shin-Soo Choo, having Salty back at $15 million may well have been worth avoiding A.J. Pierzynski. This is particularly true when you consider the possibility that Saltalamacchia does not accept the offer, leaving the Red Sox with yet another draft pick.
But what's done is done. Salty is gone, taking his big hits and his serious blunders with him, for better or worse. The road is now clear for Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart in the years to come, but if they don't work out, the Sox may look back at this catching market and see it as a missed opportunity.