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  • Twins Chasing Top Catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia?

    In his Sunday notes column, Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo mentioned that the Minnesota Twins continue to be pursuing catchers to replace Joe Mauer. And not just any catcher - the top remaining free agent catcher:

    7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, free agent — Salty is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base. Saltalamacchia could get a three-year deal in the $30 million range, which would seem to be a no-brainer for a team looking for a switch-hitting, power-hitting catcher at age 28.
    As mentioned above, Saltalamacchia is a 28-year-old switch-hitting catcher who has hit 55 home run over the last three years with the Red Sox (which explains why this report is coming from a Boston newspaper). His OPS over those 3 years is .763, which would've been second on the Twins last year. Overall, those numbers about match what Ryan Doumit did back in 2012, which is very solid.

    This surprises me. I'm not surprised the Twins would try to sign a catcher, but it surprises me they would commit that kind of time and dollars to a catcher with Josmil Pinto, who was called up in September and thrived, on the verge of the major leagues. I guess I see a couple possibilities:

    1) The Twins liked the "half-time" arrangement they had the last couple years with Ryan Doumit and Mauer, and would like to do the same with Pinto and Saltalamacchia. It would keep both well-rested and both can hit enough to be the designated hitter when they're not catching. I think you could say the same about AJ Pierzynski, to whom the Twins have also been linked.

    It would also allow Saltalamacchia and Doumit (if he can catch) to split time this year, giving Pinto some time in AAA, and then Pinto takes Doumit's spot on the roster when his contract ends at the end of this year.

    2) I wonder if they would sign Saltalamacchia and then make Pinto available in a trade for young pitching? For whatever reason, the Twins have never seemed to be very high on Pinto. They could view now as a "sell high" opportunity. They might be right and it's interesting to think about just what kind of return they could get for him.

    With catcher Brian McCann being signed yesterday by the Yankees for $85 million over five years, Saltalamacchia is the best remaining catcher on the free agent market. In the Offseason Handbook, we estimated he would sign for 3 years and $24 million, and there was a lot of internal debate about that number. It'll be interesting to see if the Twins will be willing to pay what the market will bear.

    I'd love to see it, and not just because it isn't my money. To me, signing Saltalamacchia would represent a proactive instead of reactive move, giving the Twins some flexibility and time, as well as improving the offense. I'd still rather they go after pitching, but it's rare to nab a guy who is just 28 years old in free agency, especially one with Saltalamacchia's performance record. If this doesn't get in the way of adding another pitcher (and I don't think it does), it's a savvy move.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Cafardo: Twins on Salty started by twinscowboysbulls View original post
    Comments 210 Comments
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      mlbtraderumors has a reporter in Denver saying salty going to Marlins. in the post above that it says the Twins have inquired on the A's Brett Anderson.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Tweet from Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (hat tip to @nmarg34)

      "For those #Rockies fans curious about free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, I'm told he's going to #Marlins."
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins best friend View Post
      If MLBtraderumors is correct then we should have all this settled relatively soon. I'm not fully sold on signing Salty because I feel like Pinto will fill the need at catcher with more experience. Feeling this way it would almost be like paying Salty to fill the void for a year or maybe two until Pinto is ready, a time period we more than likely won't be making a World Series run during anyway. On the other hand... all these free agent signings are fun.
      Looks like he is headed to the Marlins based on the latest there.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I am starting to change my mind about Salty, because his spits are incredibly different:

      Career as a LHB: .263/.327/.469, 115 OPS+
      Career as a RHB: .206/.267/.332, 64 OPS+

      Play him against Righties and Pinto against lefties and you got something. These splits are real and repeat season after season.
      Those are Morneau numbers....but imagine 100 more strikeouts and playing only 120 games.

      Interesting note. Pinto seems to be better (AVG/PWR) against RHP than LHP. Not by much, but 2012 had similar results.

      2013
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/mi...=bgl&year=2013

      2012
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/mi...=bgl&year=2012
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      I must be missing something. The comments I've seen on Pinto range from "ready for MLB starting job right now" to "needs a season of AAA, his defense is still not where it should be". Can't recall anything worse than that, let alone "hopeless".
      Signing Salty to a 3 year deal would spell the end of Pinto's development and being a MLB starting catcher. Pinto will be 25 starting next season.

      He'd be 29 before he'd be playing more than 40 games a year if we signed Salty.

      That doesn't say belief in a guy as a possible MLB starting catcher.

      Salty would hurt, maybe stop, his development as to get him playing experience/development he'd have to go back and forth to AAA to get the necessary experience.

      There's posts saying he's a horrible pitch framer (cited one where he was the 2nd worst in MiLB).

      Not sure what they expect him to hit. If it's expected he'd hit anything better than .265, he's going to put up better AVG/OBP/SLG than Salty.

      So that isn't a glaring endorsement for him as a hitter either.

      Perhaps, the "hopeless" is slight exaggeration on my part.

      But, I just don't see delaying/killing/whatever Pinto might be until he's 29...which is preceded by sitting on the bench for 3 years.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
    1. Westgaard66's Avatar
      Westgaard66 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post

      honestly i am cool with that…..USe the money you were going to spend on Salty or AJ and go get another SP.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Great, maybe now they'll go get a legit OF or DH or both instead......
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Great find!

      (note to self: follow this guy)

      And excited the Twins are giving Pinto a legitimate shot. Turner would be ready in 2 years as well if Pinto ain't worth beans.

      Is there any other FA starting arms out there worth spending the money on?
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Looks like the Twins were not expecting to pay Salty....looks like Miami is about to sign him to a 3 year 21-22 million contract. if the Twins bid 24-25 and lost ok but why would anyone want to sign with a team that Loria owns? I know he's from 70 miles away from the ballpark but still.

      Marlins Close To Deal With Saltalamacchia

      By Steve Adams [December 3 at 4:27pm CST]
      4:27pm: Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel reports that the Marlins have offered three years and $21MM (Twitter link). Passan hears that the Marlins are "closing in" on a deal with Saltalamacchia that is in the three-year, $22MM range.
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