Coming off of a disappointing 2013 season, the Phillies will likely have a busy offseason ahead of them. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be taking a look at some of the players they might target.
Note: The original version of this story had Saltalamacchia incorrectly listed as being a left-handed batter rather than a switch hitter.
2013 Team: Boston Red Sox
Key 2013 stats: .273 AVG/.338 OBP/.466 SLG/14 HR/65 RBI
Possessing the longest name in major league history, “Salty” started off his pro career as a top prospect. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Braves, and was used as the centerpiece of the team’s trade for Rangers’ first baseman Mark Teixiera.
Salty didn’t have a successful tenure with the Rangers. He had trouble earning regular playing time, suffered some injuries, and developed some mental issues with throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
After a later trade to the Red Sox, he finally began to live up to his billing. He’s developed into a decent power hitter, averaging over 18 home runs in his three seasons as the Red Sox’s regular catcher. In 2013, he established a career high in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Why He Might be a Good Fit
With incumbent Carlos Ruiz due to become a free agent, the Phillies have a gaping hole behind the plate, and Saltalamacchia would add some power to their lineup.
Why He Might Not be a Good Fit
While Salty is a switch hitter, he has performed vastly better from the left side of the plate. (In 2013: .294/.350/.523 vs. .218/.309/.319) This would not do much to help a Phillies lineup that is already unbalanced in favor of lefties. He is also not especially well-regarded defensively. Most importantly, considering he plays a premium position, he likely won’t come cheap, especially if they’ll be competing for his services with the Red Sox.
Considering he just won the World Series with the Red Sox, it will likely be harder (read: more costly) to get him to leave. Then again, he wouldn’t be the first player to win a championship and then focus on getting paid.
I would stay away from Salty. He provides good power (at least from the left side), but in theory, the Phillies should already have adequate power from the left side of the plate. It is also makes me somewhat nervous that despite hitting 25 homers in 2012, the Red Sox still forced him to compete for the starting job in 2013.
Unless they could somehow sign him to a below market deal (and don’t count on that happening), I would look elsewhere to fill the catchers position.