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  • Twins Chasing Top Catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia?

    In his Sunday notes column, Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo mentioned that the Minnesota Twins continue to be pursuing catchers to replace Joe Mauer. And not just any catcher - the top remaining free agent catcher:

    7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, free agent — Salty is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base. Saltalamacchia could get a three-year deal in the $30 million range, which would seem to be a no-brainer for a team looking for a switch-hitting, power-hitting catcher at age 28.
    As mentioned above, Saltalamacchia is a 28-year-old switch-hitting catcher who has hit 55 home run over the last three years with the Red Sox (which explains why this report is coming from a Boston newspaper). His OPS over those 3 years is .763, which would've been second on the Twins last year. Overall, those numbers about match what Ryan Doumit did back in 2012, which is very solid.

    This surprises me. I'm not surprised the Twins would try to sign a catcher, but it surprises me they would commit that kind of time and dollars to a catcher with Josmil Pinto, who was called up in September and thrived, on the verge of the major leagues. I guess I see a couple possibilities:

    1) The Twins liked the "half-time" arrangement they had the last couple years with Ryan Doumit and Mauer, and would like to do the same with Pinto and Saltalamacchia. It would keep both well-rested and both can hit enough to be the designated hitter when they're not catching. I think you could say the same about AJ Pierzynski, to whom the Twins have also been linked.

    It would also allow Saltalamacchia and Doumit (if he can catch) to split time this year, giving Pinto some time in AAA, and then Pinto takes Doumit's spot on the roster when his contract ends at the end of this year.

    2) I wonder if they would sign Saltalamacchia and then make Pinto available in a trade for young pitching? For whatever reason, the Twins have never seemed to be very high on Pinto. They could view now as a "sell high" opportunity. They might be right and it's interesting to think about just what kind of return they could get for him.

    With catcher Brian McCann being signed yesterday by the Yankees for $85 million over five years, Saltalamacchia is the best remaining catcher on the free agent market. In the Offseason Handbook, we estimated he would sign for 3 years and $24 million, and there was a lot of internal debate about that number. It'll be interesting to see if the Twins will be willing to pay what the market will bear.

    I'd love to see it, and not just because it isn't my money. To me, signing Saltalamacchia would represent a proactive instead of reactive move, giving the Twins some flexibility and time, as well as improving the offense. I'd still rather they go after pitching, but it's rare to nab a guy who is just 28 years old in free agency, especially one with Saltalamacchia's performance record. If this doesn't get in the way of adding another pitcher (and I don't think it does), it's a savvy move.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Cafardo: Twins on Salty started by twinscowboysbulls View original post
    Comments 210 Comments
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Doumit is not an everyday catcher....he's a borderline back up one at this point
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Heck... Ryan Doumit isn't even a catcher, period. That is, unless being able to physically put on a catcher's mitt is all it takes to qualify for that term.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      To all those saying they need pitching, and should not sign a position player, they have the money to sign more than 1 player, more than 2 even.....this is not a zero sum game. And John, until they do go that many years and money, there is no reason to be surprised that they would....because they have not yet.

      I'd prefer a REALY big splash offensively and defensively myself, but I'd be good with this. There is no SS out there, that leaves C and OF (imo) on the non pitching side.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I'd prefer a REALY big splash offensively and defensively myself, but I'd be good with this. There is no SS out there, that leaves C and OF (imo) on the non pitching side.
      and DH.

      But is Saltalamacchia this guy? This season he hit .273/.338/.466. Last season a Plouffeian: .222/.288/.454. And his career numbers (including 2013) are: .246/.310/.428.
      And I assume that his left hand bat (he is horrible from the other side) will regress at Target Field.

      Allegedly he is great at pitch framing, but I wonder how much of this is the Red Sox jersey vs. Saltalamacchia...

      Is this kind of production worth $10M? Is this kind of production going to be much better than a mix of Herrmann and Pinto? $10M a year better?

      I doubt it.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I have no idea if he's good or not......but the "is he worth $10MM" is only relevant if they are close to their budget in the coming 2-3 years.....if not, they can spend as much as they want on one player or three players or five players.

      Me? I would roll the dice on Pinto and a cheaper veteran, and go all in on a very good OF (offensivelly and defensivelly), along with two starting pitchers.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I have no idea if he's good or not......but the "is he worth $10MM" is only relevant if they are close to their budget in the coming 2-3 years.....if not, they can spend as much as they want on one player or three players or five players.

      Me? I would roll the dice on Pinto and a cheaper veteran, and go all in on a very good OF (offensivelly and defensivelly), along with two starting pitchers.
      OF is the last place this team should be spending money on FA wise at this point (unless you can get Choo on a friendly deal, which is highly doubtful)

      I know its pre-mature but I am confident in penciling in Buxton and Arcia for the OF for the next few years. That leaves one spot open, Willingham is a decent stop gap for 2014, and then you have Hicks & Rosario who could be up and ready for the start of 2015 as well.

      IF those guys bomb out this year or regress, then perhaps you go out and get an OF bat next year on the FA market (there are always plenty of OF's in the FA market)
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Pinto has been in the Twins Organization for 8 years. They may do something you do not personally agree with, but it won't be stupid. Sharing duties with the top remaining free agent catcher instead of throwing him to the wolves makes a lot of sense. IMO Salty and Pinto helps make our favorite team, strong up the middle.
      And weak on the mound. Every dime that goes into a catcher with sporadic offensive production won't be going to upgrade the pitching staff.

      Why do you say any given move by the Twins won't be stupid? They aren't infallible, they've made numerous stupid decisoins over the years just like every other club. In fact most decisions they make, including ones that you, I or any other fan endorses at the time, has the potential to look stupid a short while later.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      And weak on the mound. Every dime that goes into a catcher with sporadic offensive production won't be going to upgrade the pitching staff.
      Salty's numbers haven't been sporadic at all the past 3 years, I am not to concerned at this point how he was hitting when he was 22, 23 and 24.

      Assuming last year was an aberration, you can still expect him to put up a .740 OPS which I am pretty sure is well within the top 10 of catchers year in and year out.

      The Twins can spend $10 mil on a catcher and still have plenty of money to sign pitchers in 2014 and 2015. Frankly, the Twins aren't going to go sign 3-4 legit starting pitchers this off season and it isn't feasible. At some point they have to count on a couple guys like Meyer and Gibson moving forward.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      This discussion is moot, in 2011 Terry wanted to swap out players for lesser players and lower paydays, He did , he had a plan and he targeted those players ...in 2012 we heard the team was in on several players and nothing was done except over paying for K.C. Agian this year we have heard we are in on Tanaka,Haren,Arroyo,2 Santanas and Salty, along with several others. Untill the contracts signed it is all just smoke .
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      OF is the last place this team should be spending money on FA wise at this point (unless you can get Choo on a friendly deal, which is highly doubtful)

      I know its pre-mature but I am confident in penciling in Buxton and Arcia for the OF for the next few years. That leaves one spot open, Willingham is a decent stop gap for 2014, and then you have Hicks & Rosario who could be up and ready for the start of 2015 as well.

      IF those guys bomb out this year or regress, then perhaps you go out and get an OF bat next year on the FA market (there are always plenty of OF's in the FA market)
      Except that of the players left, the safest and best from an impact perspective are OFers....and with this staff, they need defense and offense. Sign a legit OF, move Willingham to DH, and you've fixed two problems. but, I know most don't agree. If there was a SS that was good to great out there, that's where I'd spend the money....but there isn't.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      This discussion is moot, in 2011 Terry wanted to swap out players for lesser players and lower paydays, He did , he had a plan and he targeted those players ...in 2012 we heard the team was in on several players and nothing was done except over paying for K.C. Agian this year we have heard we are in on Tanaka,Haren,Arroyo,2 Santanas and Salty, along with several others. Untill the contracts signed it is all just smoke .

      I'm a cynic about TR's willingness to spend money, but I think you are wrong.....
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Salty's numbers haven't been sporadic at all the past 3 years, I am not to concerned at this point how he was hitting when he was 22, 23 and 24.
      Past 3 years:

      Saltalamacchia: .235/.288/.450 95 OPS+ (2011), .222/.288/.454 97 OPS+ (2012), .273/.338/.466 118 OPS+ (2013); 3 seasons average: .244/.306/.457 104 OPS+

      Player X: .238/.305/.392 91 OPS+ (2011), .235/.301/.455 106 OPS+ (2012), .254/.309/.392, 94 OPS+ (2013); 3 seasons average: .243/.305/.414 98 OPS+

      Player X is a year younger than Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia does have better SLG (and pretty much identical BA and OBP), but his SLG is park-factor based as seen by the OPS+. Saltalamacchia is slightly better than player X who is one year younger.

      If Saltalamacchia is worth a 3/30M contract, how much should one sign player X for? 3/24M fair just based on the (unbiased) numbers? I think so if Saltalamacchia goes for that much.

      Figure out who player X is and then based on the numbers and your personal bias against that player, figure out whether Saltalamacchia is worth that much. Hint: Player X is a Twins' player.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Every dime that goes into a catcher with sporadic offensive production won't be going to upgrade the pitching staff.
      This is true, but you're assuming the Twins will spend every available dime on pitching. Even if they were willing to sign pitchers until they reach their budget, which they probably aren't, there's likely to be some extra money around to improve other areas.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Doumit is not an everyday catcher....he's a borderline back up one at this point
      There is a sort of a spectrum of offensive catchers from Saltalamachia (below avg catcher, ok career hitter) to Pierzynski (poor catcher, better career hitter), to Doumit (bad catcher, even better career hitter). If a team is willing to sacrifice catcher defense for some offense, Doumit has the best offensive number and he could be in the discussion. I don't want Doumit to be a primary catcher for the Twins, but it's not outrageous to think a team would try to make it work, even as a platoon with a good glove guy.

      The real point is that Salty doesn't make that much sense for a team that has Doumit, and that moving Doumit would make it make more sense.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Salty's numbers haven't been sporadic at all the past 3 years, I am not to concerned at this point how he was hitting when he was 22, 23 and 24.

      Assuming last year was an aberration, you can still expect him to put up a .740 OPS which I am pretty sure is well within the top 10 of catchers year in and year out.

      The Twins can spend $10 mil on a catcher and still have plenty of money to sign pitchers in 2014 and 2015. Frankly, the Twins aren't going to go sign 3-4 legit starting pitchers this off season and it isn't feasible. At some point they have to count on a couple guys like Meyer and Gibson moving forward.
      I'm not totally against signing him, but he just isn't consistant. While his OPS is around .740, last year was the first time he ever had a full season OBP over .300. It was .288 the previous two seasons. It seems that traditionally, guys who have very low OBP are the ones who are inconsistant throughout the season. Guys who struggle to get on base tend to be the ones who go on extended cold streaks.

      I like the power, but as discussed, it likely won't play as well at TF. I'm not saying he shouldn't be signed, I'm just saying that his disaster percentage is likely pretty high.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Except that of the players left, the safest and best from an impact perspective are OFers....and with this staff, they need defense and offense. Sign a legit OF, move Willingham to DH, and you've fixed two problems. but, I know most don't agree. If there was a SS that was good to great out there, that's where I'd spend the money....but there isn't.
      Your solution if I am correct is to sign Ellsbury? Who suddenly loses a ton of value when you move him from CF (which you would do the second Buxton was called up) not to mention he is much more sporadic of a hitter than Salty and would cost over twice as much.

      The one OF I wouldn't mind taking a run at would be Cruz, I would offer him 2/30 or 1/16 to rebuild his value. (Though he would prob just go back to Texas at those rates) Not sure I would go three years due to defense and HGH regression question, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world I suppose.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Craig in MN View Post
      There is a sort of a spectrum of offensive catchers from Saltalamachia (below avg catcher, ok career hitter) to Pierzynski (poor catcher, better career hitter), to Doumit (bad catcher, even better career hitter). If a team is willing to sacrifice catcher defense for some offense, Doumit has the best offensive number and he could be in the discussion. I don't want Doumit to be a primary catcher for the Twins, but it's not outrageous to think a team would try to make it work, even as a platoon with a good glove guy.

      The real point is that Salty doesn't make that much sense for a team that has Doumit, and that moving Doumit would make it make more sense.
      Saying that Doumit would be an option at Catcher for this team moving forward doesn't make it so. Doumit simply put is a very poor catcher defensively in every ascertainable stat/eye test. He put up a 0.1 WAR last season overall and is projected to be a 0.0 WAR player this year, putting a replacement level catcher in over a guy like Salty (3.0 WAR) makes zero sense.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Past 3 years:

      Saltalamacchia: .235/.288/.450 95 OPS+ (2011), .222/.288/.454 97 OPS+ (2012), .273/.338/.466 118 OPS+ (2013); 3 seasons average: .244/.306/.457 104 OPS+

      Player X: .238/.305/.392 91 OPS+ (2011), .235/.301/.455 106 OPS+ (2012), .254/.309/.392, 94 OPS+ (2013); 3 seasons average: .243/.305/.414 98 OPS+

      Player X is a year younger than Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia does have better SLG (and pretty much identical BA and OBP), but his SLG is park-factor based as seen by the OPS+. Saltalamacchia is slightly better than player X who is one year younger.

      If Saltalamacchia is worth a 3/30M contract, how much should one sign player X for? 3/24M fair just based on the (unbiased) numbers? I think so if Saltalamacchia goes for that much.

      Figure out who player X is and then based on the numbers and your personal bias against that player, figure out whether Saltalamacchia is worth that much. Hint: Player X is a Twins' player.
      I'm sorry, what does Trevor Plouffe have to do with any of this? If Plouffe was a good defensive catcher then I suppose the comparison would make sense.

      Heck if Plouffe was even good defensively I suppose that comparison would at least be a tiny bit relevant, however, Plouffe has been poor defensively at third base and has only put up a combined 0.1 WAR in the last 3 years. Additionally, the average third baseman hits quite a bit better than the average catcher.

      It's comparing apples and oranges at this point.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Saying that Doumit would be an option at Catcher for this team moving forward doesn't make it so. Doumit simply put is a very poor catcher defensively in every ascertainable stat/eye test. He put up a 0.1 WAR last season overall and is projected to be a 0.0 WAR player this year, putting a replacement level catcher in over a guy like Salty (3.0 WAR) makes zero sense.
      I'm not talking about Doumit playing catcher for this team. I am talking about there being a team that might settle for Doumit and the Twins trading him to them. And if anyone expects Salty to be a 3 WAR player, they are fooling themselves....I'd bet it will be less than 2. He has had exactly one 2+ WAR year in his career, and that was last year and fueled by an extreme BABIP. For their careers, both Doumit and Salty average about 1 WAR per year.

      Salty is more at his peak, and Doumit more on the downside, and Salty is obviously an overall better player for next year. But Salty is trying to sign for 3+ years for a ton of money. In three years, I bet he's a worse player than Doumit is now, and even less deserving of playing time. I don't want to sign up for that.
    1. bphat1's Avatar
      bphat1 -
      I don't think any 3 year deal is a mistake. It's the 5,6,7 year deals that kill teams. The Twins generally don't do that unless it's for an MVP. I'm in the "Salty makes us better so sign him" camp. I also don't think he keeps us from grabbing two pitchers who can make us better.
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