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.
David Price is reported to have a “barking” elbow and it is expected that the Red Sox will scratch him from tonight’s start against the Royals in Boston. Dan Shaughnessy reports that the elbow soreness is similar to what he was feeling in the spring and that the Red Sox may place him on the disabled list. UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the Red Sox gave Price an MRI yesterday.
Price was knocked around for six runs — five earned — in five innings against the Angels in his last start. He was also the subject of controversy soon after that after Shaughnessy reported the details of his run-in with Dennis Eckersley on the Sox team plane in June. That incident and his elbow are obviously separate things, but that’s not stopping the talk radio from people using the report of Price’s elbow to question is fortitude and stuff. Which is dumb, even if it is predictable. If you want to question Price’s character, fine, but to suggest that it’s related to his health is a silly way to go about it.
Price is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 66 innings across 11 starts this year. The Red Sox are a half game up on the Yankees in the AL East.
There was a lot of talk yesterday that the New York Yankees and the Oakland A’s were close to a Sonny Gray deal, but that seems to be at an impasse now, as Jon Heyman reports that the A’s want either either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres and the Yankees say both of those prospects are off limits.
Frazier, who has held his own with a .284/.299/.541 line since his callup at the beginning of the month, is a key part of the Yankees future or — if you think Brian Cashman is bluffing here — a prime trade chit for someone better than Sonny Gray. Torres, despite his season ending due to Tommy John surgery following a freak play, is widely considered the Yankees shortstop of the future. Again, no one is untouchable in the right deal, but it’s an open question as to whether Sonny Gray is really the guy you burn your top prospects for.
There are lesser pitchers for whom the Yankees could trade, such as Jaime Garcia. Or, if they want to take a chance on a rental, they could go after Yu Darvish. But at the moment it does not seem like a Gray-to-New York deal is gonna happen.