Red Sox and Jarrod Saltalamacchia avoid arbitration for $2.5 million

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Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the Red Sox have avoided arbitration prior to tomorrow’s deadline for submitting figures, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Saltalamacchia, who earned $750,000 last season in his first year of arbitration eligibility, is in line for a bigger role with the Red Sox following the departure of Jason Varitek.

His new backup, Kelly Shoppach, is ideally suited to face strictly left-handed pitching, so a platoon situation makes sense given that the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has been much better versus righties than lefties.

In that scenario Saltalamacchia would be in line for at least two-thirds of the starts behind the plate after starting 96 times at catcher last season. He’ll be a free agent following the 2013 season, so if Saltalamacchia thrives as the primary starter the Red Sox could look to sign him to a multi-year deal.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.

Video: Blue Jays walk off against the Athletics again, this time with a grand slam

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The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.

Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.