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.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.