Free Agent Forecast: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Jarrod "Salty" Saltalamacchia is without a doubt one of the top catchers on the market, despite the fact that his defense isn't great. He's averaged about 19 home runs over the last three seasons, and has been a great piece in the Boston clubhouse. Once a highly touted prospect with the Braves and Rangers, Salty has finally begun to look like the player we all thought he would be. With his size behind the plate, he isn't the most graceful player to watch. He has struggled with his throwing considerably, and he gave up the most stolen bases last season of any catcher in baseball. He was also benched by the Red Sox in the World Series because of poor play both offensively and defensively. The bottom line though is that Saltalamacchia is only 28-years-old and can hit for power, so he will certainly have options. He's also a switch-hitter, even though he's MUCH better from the left-hand side.
The Yankees' interest in Salty depends entirely on Brian McCann and whether or not the Yankees will think his asking price is too high. If McCann uses Carlos Ruiz's recent contract as leverage and demands the world, the Yanks may look at Saltalamacchia as a cheaper alternative. I do think, however, that the Yankees will end up going after McCann because of his consistent power and good defense. But if somehow they don't come to terms, Saltalamacchia is looked at as a close second on the free-agent depth chart at the catcher position.
There have been rumors that the Twins are interested in Salty especially after Joe Mauer agreed to switch to a full-time first baseman. I could also see Saltalamacchia ending up with either the Blue Jays or the Rays. The Blue Jays are looking to upgrade at catcher and also need some winning vibes in the clubhouse, and the Rays are probably hoping to upgrade from the Molina/Lobatón split. However, Yankee fans shouldn't be shocked if Salty is with the team come Spring Training. Brian McCann is a big, expensive maybe and Saltalamacchia would make a lot of sense in New York.