Red Sox avoid arbitration with Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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The Red Sox still have little idea what their catching situation will be next year, but they did secure one option on Thursday, agreeing to terms with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a non-guaranteed $750,000 deal.

The contract will pay him $250,000 if he spends the season in the minors.

Despite collecting just 24 major league at-bats this season, Salty was eligible for arbitration for the first time.  Since debuting with the Braves in 2007, he’s hit .248/.315/.386 with 23 homers in 813 major league at-bats.  Unfortunately, his best year was his first season, when he hit 11 of those homers.

Given his spotty track record both offensively and defensively, Salty probably won’t be promised anything entering 2011.  Like most arbitration contracts, this isn’t guaranteed, meaning the Red Sox could cut him next spring and pay him just one-sixth or one-quarter of the total amount, depending on the timing.

Oddly enough, Salty might actually have a better chance of making the team next year if the Red Sox downgrade from Victor Martinez at catcher.  The team would probably prefer a strong defender as a backup if they’re able to retain the free agent.

On the other hand, the Red Sox could pursue someone like Gregg Zaun or Rod Barajas and give Salty an opportunity to win the job in spring training.  That inexpensive solution would free up cash to re-sign Adrian Beltre and upgrade the outfield.  It’d be a risk, but should Salty disappoint in Boston like he did in Texas, the team would have a veteran ready to step in and could trade for another veteran at the deadline.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.