Jarrod Saltalamacchia rumors: Twins, Rockies, Jays in play for free-agent catcher, per report

Rob Carr

With Carlos Ruiz and Brian McCann already off the market, Salty is now widely regarded as the best backstop available.

The Twins, Rockies and Blue Jays have emerged as the most likely candidates to sign free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia away from the Red Sox, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Boston still has a two-year offer on the table for Salty, so his return to Beantown appears the most likely scenario at the moment, but that could change if one of the other interested clubs is willing to give him a longer contract. The switch-hitting backstop is reportedly on the market for a three- or four-year deal -- the Red Sox have been reluctant to go over two -- and he might be able to get it now that he's the best catcher left in the shallow free-agent pool.

Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz were the easily the biggest behind-the-plate names on the open market this fall, but both have already inked long-term deals. Their early deals leave Salty, A.J. Pierzynski and a long list of back-up types as the only free-agent options available to a host of clubs still looking to upgrade behind the plate.

The Twins and Rockies have productive catchers on their rosters, but both clubs are looking to move those players out from behind the plate: Minnesota has already made the executive decision to move Joe Mauer to first base full time, and Colorado is reportedly, per Heyman, trying to shift Wilin Rosario to the outfield. In order for those moves to work, the clubs need someone to step in at catcher, which is presumably where Saltalamacchia comes into play.

The Twins do have young prospect Josmil Pinto ready to step in to catching role next season, but that hasn't stopped them from being linked to Saltalamacchia over the last few weeks. The Rockies' situation behind the plate is much more uncertain with Rosario out of the picture, which explains why the club went so hard after McCann before the Yankees scooped him up.

The Blue Jays' situation is a bit different from the two other interested parties. They too have an incumbent catcher, but he was anything but productive for the team this past season. J.P. Arencibia did hit 21 home runs for Toronto in 2013, but he did so while hitting under the Mendoza line and turning in one of the worst on-base percentages (.227) by a qualified player in modern baseball history.

While there has been a large amount of early movement in free agency so far this winter, it's unlikely that the Saltalamacchia situation will resolve itself before next month's Winter Meetings. Given the state of things, his best bet is probably to get clubs competing for his services in Orlando, which could net him the long-term deal he wants.

ESPN's Buster Olney suggested on WEEI Wednesday morning that the perceived lull Saltalamacchia's market so far this fall might be due to injury concerns similar to those that plagued Mike Napoli last year. Salty's agent was quick to rebuke this claim, pointing out to Alex Speier of WEEI that his client hasn't been on the disabled list since 2010.

His agent indicated that the catcher's market might be more lively than everyone believes, using the ol' "just because you're not hearing about it doesn't mean it's not happening" gambit. He also implied that the Chicago Cubs are not in the running for Saltalamacchia's services.

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