Jarrod Saltalamacchia originally thought he hit his 15th homer in the third inning Friday against the Orioles. When the call was correctly overturned and ruled a double instead, he accomplished a much more interesting feat.
Saltalamacchia became just the 15th catcher (13th different) to put together a 40-double season since 1901. The other active catchers to pull it off are Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and Yadier Molina. Jorge Posada and Ivan Rodriguez both did it twice.
Never much of a doubles guy previously, Salty actually had 40 two-baggers (and 41 homers) between 2011 and 2012 combined. He averaged one double every 19.5 at-bats in the first six seasons of his career. This year, he’s at one every 10.5 at-bats. It should be noted that he’s playing in a terrific park for doubles in Fenway, but a mere 21 of those 40 doubles have come at home.
Salty will finish this season with career highs in average, runs scored and RBI as he heads into free agency for the first time. He’s upped his stock enough that the Red Sox will probably make him an approx. $14 million qualifying offer this winter, securing them a draft pick if he leaves. A three-year deal in the $30 million-$36 million range seems appropriate.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.