The Detroit Tigers and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia have agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.
Saltalamacchia returns to the Tigers where he played in 92 games in 2016. Last year he only played ten games in the bigs, all with the Blue Jays. Over the course of his career he is a .233/.307/.409 hitter with 110 homers over 11 seasons.
Signing Saltalamacchia is a a depth move and some injury insurance. He showed last year that he’d accept a minor league assignment and played over the winter in Mexico too, so he’s one of the rare veterans who may stick around and report to Triple-A if there is no room for him on the big league roster. Which, given the presence of James McCann and John Hicks, there does not seem to be.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.