On July 31, 2010, the Red Sox acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who Theo Epstein had been rumored to have interest in over previous years. When the Texas Rangers were willing to deal him, it was no surprise that Epstein made a move. The timing of the move was a surprise for what it signified. It became clear that Epstein had already begun planning for a 2011 season without Victor Martinez.
Kevin Cash was acquired on the first of July 2010 to join with career-minor-leaguer Dustin Brown. Together they had the monumental task of filling in for the injured Martinez and Jason Varitek. Martinez was still three weeks away from returning and Varitek was beginning a two-month stint on the disabled list. This is when the 2010 Red Sox needed to make the trade for Saltalamacchia, but they didn’t until four weeks later. Martinez had returned from injury five days before the deal. Martinez admirably completed his last season with the Red Sox and entered free agency for the first time. He has since signed with the Detroit Tigers.
Varitek resigned for one more year to stay with Boston. When healthy, Varitek was having a solid year as the backup catcher in 2010. The Red Sox captain batted .232 with an OPS of .766 and belted seven homer runs in 39 games. Varitek has made known his desire to end his career with the Red Sox. He has been with the team since he was first called up from the minors and made his debut on Sep. 24, 1997. He has developed knowledge of team’s pitching staff and opposing hitters that can’t be matched. His leadership will continue to help the Red Sox in 2011 and will be a great benefit to Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamacchia has been a prospect, with good minor-league numbers since he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves with the 36th overall pick in 2003. In his rookie season of 2007, the Braves and Rangers alternated him between first base and catcher. The platoon kept his bat in the lineup and gave him time to develop as a catcher. With the Red Sox addition of Adrian Gonzalez, I don’t expect Saltalamacchia to see much time at first base this year. He will either catch or sit on bench.
Since the trade from Atlanta to Texas in his first season, Saltalamacchia played 191 games, hit .244 with 19 homers and knocked in 81 runs. This earned him the distinction of being the named the 2010 Opening Day starting catcher for the Rangers. With other young catchers on the team and in the system, his starting role wasn’t secure. It only took an early injury for Texas to move on to other options. Once ready to play again, Saltalamacchia rehabbed and worked on his catching mechanics and defensive at Triple-A Oklahoma City. With the Rangers no longer having a need for him at the Major League level, he remained with Oklahoma City, playing 63 games, hitting .244 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI, until the trade to Boston.
Saltalamacchia will enter the 2011 season with a secured starting job for the first time. His performance will determine if he can be the main catcher over time or becomes a reserve player. The switch hitter should be able to produce the offense the Red Sox desire out of a starting catcher. He doesn’t need to replace the production of Martinez. Other acquisitions were brought in to do that. Saltalamacchia worked on his defense in the minors last year and both Terry Francona and Theo Epstein are pleased with his offseason workouts. Saltalamacchia is being given a shot to start and contribute for a contender. This is what he has been working towards and he is ready for his chance.
Enjoy this article? Receive e-mail alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the “Subscribe” button above.