With Jeff Mathis and Rob Brantly logging the bulk of the time behind the plate, Miami's catchers hit a combined .194 with a .529 OPS last season. They produced only nine home runs in 572 at-bats.
Saltalamacchia started for the Boston Red Sox the past three seasons, but they were reluctant to give him a multiyear deal. A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia batted a career-high .273 with 15 homers, 40 doubles and 65 RBI last season for the World Series champions. But he struck out 139 times in 121 games each of the past two years.
Saltalamacchia in 2013 was considerably better from the left side against right-handed pitching. He hit 76 points higher (.294) and slugged 204 points better (.523) than he did hitting right-handed off lefty pitchers (.218, .319). He totaled 136 plate appearances off left-handers compared to 334 off righties. All but two of his 14 homers came as a lefty swinger. The Marlins thought they had a long-term answer behind the plate when they acquired Rob Brantly from the Tigers in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante deal before the July 31, 2012 trade deadline. Brantly regressed both offensively and defensively in 2013, and the Marlins have said he would benefit from more time in the minors.
The Marlins have some money to spend this winter and were looking for a veteran backstop to pair with backup Jeff Mathis. They still have holes on the pitching staff and at second and third bases. The team has a history of trading it's biggest free agent pickups after a year or two, so it'll be interesting to see if Saltalamacchia pushes for a no-trade clause. The Red Sox did not tender Saltamacchia a qualifying offer, so the Marlins or any other club will not have to forfeit a high draft pick to sign him.
Though his home runs declined pretty significantly from his 25 bombs in 2012, Salty still managed to increase his extra-base hit rate by nearly 2 percent, so there shouldn't be any cause for concern there. He should slip right into the top of the Marlins' depth chart at catcher, which pushes Jeff Mathis into back-up duty and could potentially make youngster Rob Brantly expendable.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is taking a dramatic plunge, going from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox to the last-place Marlins. But he’ll be receiving a thick wad of cash to soften the landing. The 28-year-old catcher and native of nearby Royal Palm Beach agreed Tuesday to a three-year deal with the Marlins that will pay him $21 million, according to sources with knowledge of the contract. The deal is pending a physical.
The 28-year-old Saltalamacchia, who grew up in South Florida, excelled last season with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .273/.338/.466 and doing the majority of the catching for the World Series champions. Between Saltalamacchia's postseason struggles and lingering questions about his health, his market did not blossom immediately. In the end, the Marlins beat out the Minnesota Twins, who offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal with an option, and the Red Sox, who went with a straight two-year offer and signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal Tuesday.
Salty and Mathis could be a real nice one two punch with the @Marlins. Experienced guys who can develop a great young staff.— Kyle Sielaff (@Kyle_Sielaff) December 4, 2013
Saltalamacchia (14) will break the #Marlins franchise record for longest last name, previously held by Hollandsworth & Spooneybarger (13)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) December 4, 2013
Unlike other Miami free agents burned by house purchases, Salty already lives there.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 4, 2013
Jarrod Saltalamacchia to receive annual salaries of $6m, $7m and $8m over the 3 yrs. Per #Marlins policy, there is NO no-trade protection— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) December 4, 2013
2013 splits for switch-hitting Salty: .218 vs. lefties, .298 vs. righties; .283 with 2 outs & RISP; .375 balls in play, .295 vs. NL #Marlins— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) December 4, 2013
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.804 OPS in 2013) agrees to deal with Marlins. Marlins C ranked last in MLB in OPS last season (.529).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 4, 2013
Yankees and Marlins making great offseason moves. Hopefully one of them can make the playoffs this year.— Joe Freiert (@JC_1924) December 4, 2013