Three reasons the Sox let Salty walk

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has signed
with the Miami Marlins.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Ben Whitehead
Contributing writer

If you had asked me to list the free agent catchers in order of which I thought the Red Sox would have signed, A.J. Pierzynski wouldn’t have been at the top of the list. In fact, he wouldn’t have been in my top three. Brian McCann was the obvious choice, but he is now with the mortal enemy: The Yankees. Carlos Ruiz was the first to go off the board when he re-signed with the Phillies. And some speculated that the Sox may be in for a trade to bring in Ryan Hanigan from the Reds.

Nonetheless, Boston has inked Pierzynski to a one-year deal, according to multiple sources, and that spells the end of a short-lived tenure in Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Salty,” as he became known, or “The Perm,” as he became affectionately known, has moved on rather quickly, signing a three-year, $21-million deal with the Marlins.

Here are the three reasons Boston decided to let Salty walk:

1) Timetable – The Red Sox have several up-and-comers at the catching position in their farm system, including Ryan Lavarnway, who has spent significant time at the Major League level over the past few seasons. It’s likely the Lavarnway gets dealt at some point because the Sox are set with Pierzynski and David Ross for the 2014 season. In Pawtucket, Christian Vazquez will begin his first season of Triple-A and many believe he has the defensive skill-set to become a Big League catcher very soon. Blake Swihart was with Salem (High-A) and is likely to be in Portland (Double-A) to begin 2014. With those two surging their way to Boston, the Sox were looking for a one-year stopgap, and they got it with Pierzynski.

2) Postseason – When they needed him most, he vanished. Saltalamacchia batted .188 this postseason – the only postseason in which he’s played. He struck out 19 times as opposed to three walks in 35 plate appearances, had five RBI in 10 games (three RBI in the first game; two in the next nine games), and was virtually a non-factor for the team in the ALCS and World Series, recording three hits and 12 strikeouts in seven games. Many will argue that this season was the best in his career. Salty posted career-highs in batting average (.273), RBI (65) and OPS (.802). But given his previous seasons in Boston, it’s likely that the Sox thought he’d slip back to reality rather than 2013 become the norm.

3) Didn’t want him – As simply as it can be put, the Sox just did not want Salty. Whether it was a fallout during the World Series when he was benched due to poor performance or the Sox wanted to part ways for other reasons, Salty was never coming back to Boston. Clearly, Boston had its sights set on Brian McCann. When that fell through, many, including yours truly, thought Saltalamacchia was a shoe-in to come back. Ben Cherington could have offered him a qualifying offer and got a draft pick out of him if he signed elsewhere OR had him come back for one year as a stopgap (which is what they wanted). He chose neither, which tells you all you need to know about what Cherington and Co. think of Salty.

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