The Boston Red Sox did not extend a qualifying offer to free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia last week, but the team is still interested in bringing him back in 2014, manager John Farrell told WEEI on Wednesday:
"Absolutely he has a future here. We’re engaging with him and I know [Red Sox GM Ben Cherington] has talked to his agent frequently here, not just as free agent season has opened up but throughout the course of the remainder of the year and through the postseason."
Farrell's statement stands in contrast to the comments made by Saltalamacchia on Monday, in which he indicated that he was disappointed that Boston had not reached out to him about a new contract since the World Series ended. He did admit that the team could have reached out without him knowing, so perhaps it's just a case of his agent not informing him of Cherington's calls.
Farrell added that the club's decision to not give Saltalamacchia the option of a one-year, $14.1 million deal will probably end up benefiting the backstop in free agency.
Other than Brian McCann, Saltalamacchia is likely the best catcher available in free agency this winter. Had the Red Sox made him a qualifying offer, he may have had the burden of draft-pick compensation hanging around his neck all winter. As Kyle Lohse proved last offseason, the offer can be a huge hindrance to free agents that teams are reluctant to put a lot of money down on.
The Red Sox have four catchers on their 40-man even without Saltalamacchia on the roster, but it's unclear whether any of them project to start behind the plate.
Saltalamacchia, 28, put up the best numbers of his career this past season. The switch-hitter batted .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs and a career-high 40 doubles in 121 games, finishing the year with an OPS over .800 for the first time ever.