UPDATE: According to a source of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, Saltalamacchia may be "heading to [the] Marlins." We'll wait and see on any confirmation, as it seems awfully soon for such breaking news on this rumor.
Earlier today, we discussed that the Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins were among a handful of front-runners for free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Then the Boston Red Sox dropped out of the race by signing A.J. Pierzynski. Now it seems it is a two-team race for Salty, and the Marlins' offer currently has them on top, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Industry sense: #MNTwins & Marlins need to make finals offers to Salty in next day. 3/$24M could get but belief: MN has to best Miami offer.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 3, 2013
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick suspects that the market will move fast on Saltalamacchia, possibly finishing up before next week's Winter Meetings.
Saltalamacchia's market moving quickly enough now, there's a good chance he'll sign before winter meetings.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 3, 2013
This is all a part of what seems like a growing trend to get these moves done quickly, as most people have felt that the offseason has moved faster than usual this year. Nevertheless, with the catcher market dwindling quickly, it is no surprise that the Fish and Twins would like to settle their backstop situations as soon as possible.
Miami has a few advantages in the race for Saltalamacchia. The ex-Red Sox catcher is a Florida native, having gone to high school at Royal Palm Beach High School in Palm Beach County. He also resides in Florida, as he and his family have a home in Wellington. Furthermore, Miami boasts no state income tax, meaning an equivalent offer from the Twins would earn him less money.
But hold on a second, Marlins fans. Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports from a source that says that the Fish are not offering a contract up to the snuff Wolfson initially figured.
Source tells me #Marlins are offering Saltalamacchia 2 years w/ 3rd-yr team option. Guessing Twins will have to top it (guarantee 3rd year?)— Phil Mackey (@PhilMackey) December 3, 2013
Remember, Saltalamacchia preferred to stay with the Red Sox but rejected a two-year offer from them in favor of a longer contract. A third year team option is almost strictly worse than just being released as a free agent to renegotiate, as the Marlins would only take the option if they felt he outperformed his given price. The contract Miami is offering is not the sort of deal Saltalamacchia was probably looking for, and there are still some teams that could sweep in and steal him away if the discussions stall.
From Minnesota's standpoint, they have begun talking to free agent catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was recently non-tendered by the Toronto Blue Jays, according to Wolfson.
The #MNTwins have made preliminary contact w/ now FA catcher J.P. Arencibia, per a source. Talks haven't gone anywhere. Focus is Salty.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 3, 2013
Saltalamacchia remains their top choice, but they may be looking at alternatives if they are not interested in going longer than two years themselves. Unlike Miami, the Twins have a catching prospect who is close to ready in Josmil Pinto, who just finished hitting .308/.411/.482 (.406 wOBA) in Double-A at age 24. He certainly caught some eyes with his stint in the majors as well (.342/.398/.566 in 83 plate appearances). The Twins may be just as interested in getting a short-term contract as the Red Sox were, considering Pinto may be ready to take on the majors.
Even with the relatively small offer from the Marlins, they may still have the strategic edge on the hunt for Saltalamacchia. He would like to return home, even if it ends up being only for one season, and Miami genuinely needs medium-term catching help unlike the Twins. A third year would be very tempting and almost assuredly snag Saltalamacchia, and at $8 million a season, the Marlins would be making away with a very good deal.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Good deal or bad for Miami?
- A.J. Pierzynski signing: Red Sox out of Jarrod Saltalamacchia race, Marlins and Twins remain
- Marlins rumors: Miami among frontrunners for Jarrod Saltalamacchia
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- Marlins news: Miami non-tenders Chris Coghlan, Ryan Webb
- Marlins rumors: Mark Ellis on Miami's radar