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.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).

Major League Baseball issues a statement on Trump’s latest travel ban order

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Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.

The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.

To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.

Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.