As everyone on the face of the earth must know by now, the Boston Red Sox won it all last year. They did so with their reliable catcher behind the the dish, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty put up impressive numbers last year— Hitting .273, smacking 14 homeruns, boasting a .338 OBP, gunning down 21% of runners—making him a key asset to the championship team to say the least. To the surprise of many, the Red Sox let him walk after the year ended, not making him a reasonable offer. Salty then signed with the Miami Marlins on a three year deal totaling $21 million. Allowing Salty to walk and not resigning him came back to bite the Red Sox, making it easily their biggest mistake this off-season.
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So far this year, Jarrod Saltalamacchia continues to prove that Boston made a huge mistake. Posting a .333 OBP in 59 games while clobbering eight gopher balls, Salty is outperforming Red Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski by getting on base more while hitting more home runs, and Salty gets paid less than him! Of course, Salty is not gunning down many attempted base stealers, but hey what catchers on the Red Sox do these days? All around, it is clear the Marlins catcher, who is just 29-years-old, is better than 37-year-old AJ Pierzynski this year.
Some Red Sox fans might see why the club let Salty walk and did not offer him a long term deal. This is because they have confidence in catching prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. Wanting prospects to be successful Major League players is understandable, but the Red Sox easily could have had it both ways. Since David Ross is a free agent after this year, the team could have used Salty and Vazquez as their catching core in 2015. In 2016, they could have made a move if Swihart was ready to catch in the Bigs so that he could be on their roster as well. Had the Red Sox done this, they would be playing better this year than they are right now. In addition to saving money, the team would have got more production out of a much younger catcher. This scenario would have been the ultimate win-win situation for the club.
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Every GM makes mistakes in their reign, and for Ben Cherington this is one of them. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a talented catcher and Boston made a huge mistake when they let him walk last off-season. Now, they are stuck with two sub-par catchers because they tried to avoid a long-term deal.