Jarrod Saltalamacchia is stuck in limbo.
Saltalamacchia, who is a free agent, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Red Sox before Monday’s deadline. While that doesn’t mean that Saltalamacchia won’t be back in Boston in 2014, it does add to the uncertainty surrounding the catcher’s free agency.
“Obviously, a lot of teams have already called,” Saltalamacchia told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “They called the day the World Series ended. It’s really flattering and it makes me realize other teams do appreciate what I’ve done. Now on the other side, it would feel good if the Red Sox … we really haven’t had any conversation with them. It would be nice to have them call and appreciate that as well and show their appreciation by saying, ‘This is what we’re willing to do. We’re willing to go to this, that and the other thing.’ We really haven’t had discussions, but they may call and do that, so maybe I’m premature in saying this. But that’s part of the process and you have to keep an open mind, and at the same time, you have to be humbled enough to realize you’re taking good criticism with the bad criticism and let it play out.”
The Red Sox extended $14.1 million qualifying offers to their other three major free agents — Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew — but decided to hold off on making such an offer to Saltalamacchia. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Monday that the Red Sox have interest in retaining all four players, though, so it might just be a matter of time before the dialogue picks up between Saltalamacchia and the organization. For now, Salty is left scratching his head with the process still in its early stages.
“I’m a little surprised with not more conversation going on just because I thought we had a common idea of where we wanted to be,” Saltalamacchia said. “I put so much time and effort into the team and into the organization and they’ve done the same for me. But like I said, I may be premature and they might call out of nowhere, or might have already called and I just don’t know yet.”
Saltalamacchia was acquired by the Red Sox prior to the 2010 trade deadline and has shown vast improvement over the last three-plus seasons. Despite struggling this postseason and ultimately being benched in favor of David Ross for Games 4, 5 and 6 of the World Series, Saltalamacchia was a key contributor in 2013, which should help him garner a nice payday on the open market. If that means that Saltalamacchia ends up going elsewhere, the 28-year-old maintains that there won’t be any hard feelings, although his preference is to remain in Boston.
“I think it is difficult if you do ultimately have to leave,” Saltalamacchia said. “I was there for four years and that was my family’s home, going to Fenway Park every day, I truly know how lucky I was to be able to do that. In a sense, it makes the decision tough, but at the end of the day, it’s really not up to me. It is and it isn’t. Yeah, I want to go back there, but if the Red Sox aren’t willing to make an offer, I can’t really make them make an offer. I’ve always said that if it’s close, yeah, my decision is going to be Boston. That’s where my ties are and that’s where I want to be. But that’s not my decision.”
Saltalamacchia hit .273 — well above his career .246 average — in 121 regular-season games in 2013. He also compiled 14 home runs, 65 RBIs and 40 doubles while building a good rapport with Boston’s pitching staff.