The Boston Red Sox weren’t expected to sign a catcher this offseason but reached agreement Saturday on a two-year, $6.2 million contract with David Ross, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Now that they’ve done it, the logic is apparent: The Red Sox can trade their most experienced (and most expensive) catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, possibly to obtain the first baseman they covet.
In fact, an official with another club said Saturday that the Red Sox are willing to consider offers for Saltalamacchia, who hit a career-high 25 home runs last season but batted only .222 in part because of a high strikeout rate. If Boston general manager Ben Cherington trades Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox will use a combination of Ross and 25-year-old Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate.
The signing of Ross was a savvy move at a time when free-agent catchers are in short supply, particularly relative to the number of clubs looking to upgrade at the position. In Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox now have a highly-marketable trade chip. The Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros are known to be in the catching marketplace. (Of course, it’s doubtful the Red Sox would send Saltalamacchia to a division rival like the Yankees or Rays.)
The Chicago Cubs, led by the executive (Theo Epstein) who brought Saltalamacchia to Boston, are looking for a long-term catcher. But it is not clear if they have interest in a veteran like Saltalamacchia, given how early they are in a lengthy rebuild.
The Red Sox have incentive to look for a first baseman via trade, because options via free agency are limited after Adam LaRoche. Or if they trade Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox could sign Mike Napoli — who is primarily a catcher — with the idea that he would play a lot of games at first base.
— Jon Paul Morosi