The Miami Marlins have agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has confirmed the report. The deal is still pending a physical.
Saltalamacchia, 28, was the best catcher still available in a market window for backstops that has closed very quickly. When the offseason began a little over a month ago, players like Brian McCann, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski, Dioner Navarro and Salty were all available to clubs looking to upgrade behind the plate.
Now, however, every single one of those guys is off the market, including Saltalamacchia. Any club waiting until the winter meetings to bolster its catching corps — looking at you, Rockies and Twins — will now have to settle for lesser names like Kelly Shoppach and Yorvit Torrealba unless they can find a trade partner.
Saltalamacchia was tied to the Twins and the Red Sox recently, but neither club was willing to offer the third guaranteed year that the Marlins put on the table: Minnesota reportedly made a two-year offer with an option for a third, while Boston offered him two years straight up.
Saltalamacchia is coming off of arguably his best full season as a pro. The switch-hitting backstop batted .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs over 121 games in his third season with the Red Sox, turning in career highs in doubles (40), walks (43) and runs batted in (65).
Though his home runs declined pretty significantly from his 25 bombs in 2012, Salty still managed to increase his extra-base hit rate by nearly 2 percent, so there shouldn't be any cause for concern there. He should slip right into the top of the Marlins' depth chart at catcher, which pushes Jeff Mathis into back-up duty and could potentially make youngster Rob Brantly expendable.