Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Now here’s a deal that makes a whole lot of sense: according to most of the internet (though Shi Davidi had it first at Sportsnet), the Jays and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia have come to an agreement. We have a backup catcher!
Ken Rosenthal tweets that the deal will pay Satalalallamacchhialala $1.25 million if he’s in the big leagues, with potentially $250,000 more that could come by way of incentives.
Clearly this works for both sides. If Saltaalamalchhhiaalaliacchia wasn’t finding anyone willing to give him a shot at starting for them — and he obviously wasn’t — being Russell Martin’s backup on a potentially contending Blue Jays team is a nice consolation prize. He’ll get a bunch of playing time, a nice paycheque, and all he’ll have to do is beat out A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol to win the gig.
And for the Jays, there’s no risk, no guaranteed roster spot, and they have a veteran guy who has been a full-time starting catcher as recently as 2014 with the Marlins, who won a fluke World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, and who is not very far removed from being a relatively useful hitter.
He posted a 100 wRC+ in 2015, a 93 the year before that, a 116 in 2013, and was solidly (for a catcher) in the mid-90s the two years prior to that. He managed a 100 mark in the first half of 2016, too, before taking an absolute dump in the second half (27).
The glove isn’t well regarded, his pitch framing consistently gets awful grades (despite being a plus early on in his career), he’ll strike out way too much, and he’s certainly not going to be pushing Martin for playing time. But you’re not going to find a backup catcher who isn’t carrying a bucket full of flaws. And if there’s anything left in that bat he can be a useful pickup. Especially against right handers.
Yes, Saltamallalacchiamala is a switch hitter, and apart from a blip in 2015, he’s generally been stronger from the left side — so he checks another box for the Jays there.
Enough to see him get some pinch hit duties or even some time at first base? I doubt it, but life pulls twists on you sometimes. Especially when you’re a baseball team planning on giving a lot of at-bats to Justin Smoak. *COUGH*
There is also, of course, this:
@AndrewStoeten I honestly cannot wait to hear Buck say Saltalamacchia every 5 or so days
— Jimmy Vitts (@jimmyvitts) January 24, 2017
OH MY GOD YES. (Don’t ruin this for me, Matt Kory.)