Does McCann to New York set up a Salty, Red Sox reunion?

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It’s the catcher market that has moved the most quickly in free agency this winter, with Brian McCann becoming the first elite free agent to come to terms, agreeing to a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees on Saturday.

The other catcher deals:

Carlos Ruiz – Phillies (three years, $26 million)
Geovany Soto – Rangers (one year, $3.05 million)
Brayan Pena – Reds (two years, unknown salary)

The departures leave Jarrod Saltalamacchia as easily the No. 1 option left in free agency, with A.J. Pierzynski, Dioner Navarro, Kurt Suzuki, John Buck and Jose Molina next in line. The rumor Friday was that Molina was close to returning to the Rays, possibly on a two-year deal.

There are also two notable trade targets in Matt Wieters and Ryan Hanigan. Wieters doesn’t appear amenable to an extension with the Orioles in advance of hitting free agency in two years. Despite his disappointing offensive output to date, he’s still very highly thought of and would command a significant package. Hanigan would be a whole lot cheaper, and he’d be a solid option starting 80-90 games. He became expendable in Cincinnati with the Pena signing.

The suitors?

Boston: Might prefer a short-term fix with Christian Vazquez and 2011 first-round pick Blake Swihart on the way.

Toronto: Needs to upgrade from J.P. Arencibia.

Chicago White Sox: Neither Josh Phegley nor Tyler Flowers seems likely to become much of a regular.

Miami: Would like to find a cheap starter for a year to get Rob Brantly more seasoning.

Colorado: Made a run at Ruiz with the idea of shifting Wilin Rosario out from behind the plate.

Minnesota: Could use a veteran to pair with youngster Josmil Pinto.

Texas: The word was that the Rangers told Soto he’d be the starter to get him to sign quickly. Still, some are skeptical.

Seattle: A veteran capable of battling Mike Zunino for the job would be ideal, with Zunino returning to Triple-A if he doesn’t show he’s ready.

On the one hand, Saltalamacchia would seem to be sitting pretty as the only big-money catcher remaining. On the other, it doesn’t seem like any of those teams besides the Red Sox are in position to spend $10 million+ per year on a catcher, and the Red Sox already declined to give Salty a $14.1 million qualifying offer, which would seem to be put a cap on how high they’re willing to go.

Boston’s ideal would likely be to bring Salty back on a two-year deal in the $20 million range (which, according to reports, is about what they offered Ruiz). That seems like a realistic possibility now unless the Blue Jays or White Sox step it up. Alternatively, the Red Sox could go cheaper with Navarro to hold the fort down until one of their prospects is ready.

My guess: Salty back to Boston, Navarro to the Blue Jays (two years, $10 million), Pierzynski to the Twins (one year, $7 million), Suzuki to the White Sox (one year, $3 million) and Hanigan to the Mariners, with Wieters staying in Baltimore.

UPDATE: Conflicting reports on the Blue Jays calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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UPDATE: Welp, Hécto Gómez may not have this one right. Scott Mitchell of TSN is reporting that it’s “highly unlikely” Guerrero is recalled unless some sort of injury occurs, so I suppose we should all stand down.

Anyone up for keeping him down until the Super Two cutoff in June?

3:35 PM: Héctor Gómez‏, a baseball writer from the Dominican Republic, reports that The Blue Jays will call up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He will reportedly make his MLB’s debut on Tuesday. The Blue Jays have not confirmed this yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear sometime this weekend.

As we’ve noted over and over, Guerrero has nothing left to prove in the minors and has not had anything to prove there for some time. Guerrero is currently 7-for-17, with a line of .412/.500/.824 in five Triple-A games this year. In one he hit the ball clear the heck out of the stadium. This coming off a 2018 season in which he hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 408 minor league plate appearances.

A minor injury in spring training made Guerrero unavailable for Opening Day and gave the Jays cover to keep him down in the minors to start the season. With that Guerrero is ensured of not getting a full year’s worth of service time in 2019 and thus the Jays have obtained a full six years of control of him after this season. As such, there really is no baseball nor business reason to keep him down on the farm any longer.