With the New York Yankees failing to bid with the Pittsburgh Pirates (the world must be ending, right?) for Russell Martin, this obviously has left somewhat of a hole in the catcher spot. While the Yankees do have other options, are any of them solid starters day in and day out? Maybe, but it’s a long-shot. With the Boston Red Sox signing of David Ross just a few weeks ago and yesterday’s signing of Mike Napoli, this obviously means Boston is going to part ways with someone, or at least we assume so. Now, whether that someone is Jarrod Saltalamacchia or back-up catcher Ryan Lavarnway, nobody knows, but wouldn’t Salty be a nice fit in pinstripes?
While Salty may not be bred from the same catcher mold that we see out of Joe Mauer and Buster Posey, he’s still a solid player. Professionally, Saltalamacchia has had five years’ experience and with that, he may not be the biggest name catcher out there, but he’s one many teams like the Yankees would like to have. However let’s be realistic, Saltalamacchia has some of what we saw in Martin before we signed him, so who knows how hypothetically he’d look say two or three years down the road.
Career-wise, Salty is a .239/.302/.418 player. Nothing too flashy comes from his bat, but he does have a knack for power, or at least he showed that in the past two seasons. 2012 in particular was probably Salty’s best year so far in the majors and his power was on display with 17 doubles, a triple and 25 home runs. Power aside, he did have 139 strikeouts this season, which was 20 more than 2011 in just 62 more plate appearances. He also only had six more hits than 2011 in which he played in 18 fewer games. Salty’s increased K/BB ratio in 2012 from 2011 improved from 4.96 to 3.66 so there is some good in that.
Defensively, he’s just as solid as Martin was behind the plate. In 2012 what the Red Sox saw from him is the exact type of presence the Yankees now need. He only committed seven errors this season, which yielded a .991 fielding percentage. He threw out 23 percent of the runners who tried stealing on him and only allowed 23 wild pitches whereas Martin allowed 42. However in the long run, Martin’s stats may have a edge as he did play in 193 more innings behind the plate than Saltalamacchia.
Salty makes sense for this Yankees team, especially since nobody has a whole lot of confidence in our backup options. Francisco Cervelli may get the nod if the Yanks are unable to make some deal for Saltalamacchia, or any other starting catcher for that matter. Salty has become used to the AL East, and this rivalry in particular, so perhaps there would be somewhat of an advantage in trading for him.
All this aside, trades aren’t really a common thing among division rivals. It’s still somewhat shocking how the Yankees managed to snag Johnny Damon back in 2005 considering how loyal he was to the team, but that was free agency, where money talks. When push comes to shove, the Yankees will need a solid starting catcher before the season begins in April, so they may need to look past the trade partner. Would Boston feel the same way? Stay tuned.