The Marlins have solved their catching needs. And Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be be making a dramatic, first-to-last transition, going from the World Series champions to the worst team in the National League.
Saltalamacchia, 28, agreed Tuesday to a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins. He will be paid $6 million the first year, $7 million the second, and $8 million the third. He does not receive no-trade protection.
The Marlins were the only team left standing in the Saltalamacchia sweepstakes after both the Boston Red Sox (his former team) and Minnesota Twins bowed out of the bidding over the previous 24 hours.
Saltalamacchia hit .273 with 14 home runs for Boston last season. However, he also strikes out frequently and has had a success rate of only 23 percent on stolen base attempts over his career. Still, he would represent a marked improvement offensively over the Marlins' catching incumbant, Jeff Mathis.
Collectively, Marlins catchers ranked last in the majors last year with an OPS of .526. The Red Sox, with Saltalamacchia handling the bulk of the catching chores, ranked third (.787).
With Dioner Navarro signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Marlins are turning their attention elsewhere in their search for catching help, and according to The Herald's Barry Jackson, are "in the mix" -- along with the Twins and Red Sox -- for free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The Boston Globe is reporting, however, that their sources are now saying Saltalamacchia is unlikely to return to the Red Sox. [UPDATE: Jon Heyman of cbssports.com reported Tuesday morning that the Red Sox have signed A.J. Pierzynski, which would seem to eliminate Saltalamacchia from consideration for Boston.]
Meanwhile, in housecleaning news...a late-night surprise.
The Marlins did not tender contracts to either Chris Coghlan or Ryan Webb before Monday's 11:59 p.m. deadline, meaning both players can become free agents. Coghlan was the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 2009 while Webb was a mainstay in the Marlins' bullpen last season.
Clearly, the Marlins have decided to move forward without either. Coghlan has battled injuries and struggled to regain his '09 rookie form. There is no longer room for him in the Marlins' crowded outfield, and apparently team officials didn't feel he was a suitable option at third base, a position of need.
The Marlins tendered contracts to their five other arbitration-eligible players: Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn and Justin Ruggiano. All that remains is for the sides to settle on 2014 salary figures, be it through negotiation or through the arbitration process. The deadline for exchanging salary figures is Jan. 19.
Just because the Marlins have tendered offers to those players doesn't mean they'll remain with the team. Morrison has drawn trade interest from other teams and could be moved this offseason, though the Marlins might be better off keeping him. Morrison is projected to make $1.7 million through arbitration, according to MLBtraderumors.com, which would make him a bargain if he's healthy and produces at previous levels.
Ruggiano is another possible trade candidate. There had been some speculation that Ruggiano might be non-tendered. But he was second on the Marlins in home runs last season with 18, stole 15 bases, and plays all three outfield positions. His projected salary is just $1.8 million. With Coghlan now out of the picture, the Marlins could be counting on Ruggiano to provide insurance for a projected outfield of Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
Stanton figures to be the big man on the salary totem pole. Though mlbtraderumors projects his '14 salary at $4.8 million, some believe it could approach upwards of $6.5 million.