Catchers with power are a rare breed. Therefore, Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be in high demand this offseason.
Saltalamacchia is coming off a solid season with the Red Sox. He hit .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs while demonstrating much-improved plate discipline. Saltalamacchia’s on-base percentage rose from .288 in 2012 to .338 in 2013, and his OPS jumped from .742 to a career-high .804.
Saltalamacchia also set career highs in runs (68), hits (116), extra-base hits (54), doubles (40), walks (43) and total bases (198). His 40 doubles broke the single-season record for a Red Sox catcher — which was previously held by Jason Varitek (39 in 1999) and Carlton Fisk (39 in 1978) — and ranked sixth in the American League.
Sure, Salty wasn’t without his offensive shortcomings. The switch-hitting backstop hit just .218 (26-for-119) from the right side as opposed to .294 (90-for-306) from the left side, and he matched his career-high with 139 strikeouts. Plus, Saltalamacchia hit just .188 (6-for-32) with 19 strikeouts in the postseason, which allowed David Ross to unseat him as the starting catcher for the final three games of the World Series. As a whole, though, it’s hard to complain too much about the strides that Saltalamacchia made in his third full season in Boston.
Saltalamacchia was praised repeatedly by the Red Sox’ pitching staff throughout 2013. It was clear that the Red Sox’ pitchers, as well as the team’s coaching staff, developed plenty of trust in the veteran catcher, who was acquired prior to the 2010 trade deadline. That helped negate his sometimes below-average defense.
Now, it’s decision time — both for the Red Sox and for Salty. The 28-year-old has expressed a desire to stay in Boston, but it remains to be seen whether the Red Sox will offer the multiyear deal that he’s likely seeking on the open market.