When they signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia last offseason, the Miami Marlins were confident he would be able to have the success he did in 2013 with the Red Sox. But Saltalamacchia struggled offensively in 2014, and as a result, the Marlins tried to trade him this offseason, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
The Marlins were very open to dumping the last two years and $15 million of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s contract, according to a team that spoke with them, but nothing materialized and Miami now expects him back, hoping for drastic improvement.
The Marlins added Saltalamacchia on a three year deal at the Winter Meetings in Orlando hoping that he would be able to help protect Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Saltalamacchia posted a .220/.320/.362 batting line to complement 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. He posted 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 121 games for the Red Sox in 2013.
Although Saltalamacchia was able to help develop a notably young pitching staff, his inability to be consistent behind the plate led to Manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher himself, using backup Jeff Mathis more often as the season progressed. He led all major league catchers with 15 errors a season ago, and as Jackson noted, was among the worst with runners in scoring position (.182).
Despite the fact that the organization may have received a prospect or two in exchange for Saltalamacchia, a trade would have been realistic because of the growth of J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto batted .299 and drove in 62 runs with Double-A Jacksonville, and might open the season with Triple-A New Orleans with a successful spring campaign. The Marlins also had Rob Brantly available, however his bat did not fully develop and as a result, the White Sox claimed him off waivers.
This offseason, the Marlins have rightfully been seeking upgrades. Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, and Mat Latos should all prove to be valuable veteran additions, but the bottom of the lineup may not thrive if Saltalamacchia is unable to bounce back. He at times has proven to be a defensive liability, but giving the veteran another opportunity is justified. If Saltalamacchia struggles again in 2015, the Marlins can attempt to move him with a year left on his contract.
Realmuto will get a chance to start for the Marlins moving forward, and he could develop into a solid major league catcher. If Saltalamacchia has difficulty becoming consistent, the Marlins could explore other options.