The Toronto Blue Jays Sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia

by Brendan Panikkar | Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be the Blue Jays backup catcher.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be the Blue Jays backup catcher.

The Toronto Blue Jays of a few weeks ago still had many holes to fill on the roster. Fast forward a few weeks and Jose Bautista fills one of the outfield spots, and likely the only outfield spot they fill this off-season before Spring Training begins. That left the bullpen and backup catcher as the two outstanding positions that needed to be filled. Today, the Blue Jays all but filled one of those holes with the signing of veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Salty for short to a minor league deal.

Before today, the likely backup was to be long time farmhand A.J. Jimenez. While that is still possible after the addition of Salty, it is more than likely the backup spot will be handled by Saltalamacchia. Jimenez is known for his defensive abilities, but he has been lacklustre with the bat his entire minor league career. In AAA last season, Jimenez in 248 plate appearances, hit 4 home runs with 28 RBI. His slash-line was .241/.290/.377. His OPS was an ugly .668 and an ugly 89 wRC+ which is below the average of 100.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t much to write home about with his bat, he can be a decent option in the event Russell Martin lands on the DL or has the day off. For Salty’s career, he has a .234/.309/.413 and an OPS of .721, all decent numbers for a backup catcher. Salty’s best career season by far was in 2013 when he was worth 3.5 wins. Since that season, he has primarily been a backup and been a tad above average the past few seasons. Last year, Salty logged 292 plate appearances, and swatted 12 home runs. However, he only brought a .171 batting average and a K% of 35.6. He does strikeout quite a bit but he does take a decent share of walks with a career BB% of 9.6. He does have the ability to get on base amongst all the strikeouts.

Salty has been a decent defender in his career but he isn’t anything to ride home about. The past two seasons, Salty has been exactly worth 2.0 dWAR (defensive rating above average). His arm strength is about average on a scale of 0-100 as his arm strength is rated at 48 for his career. His arm accuracy is 34. There are more defensive statistics that can be used to rate Salty, and the other one I want to point out is fielding runs above average. Last season, he was -3.1. He was below average in that regard.

Saltalamacchia is a decent bat and a decent defender. At this point in his career, he is a good backup catcher. The deal is reportedly worth $1.25 million if he makes the MLB roster and a potential $250K in incentives. The added bonus is it is a minor league deal. There are no such thing as a bad minor league deal. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the likely backup and this short analysis does prove that he is a more than capable backup.

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Brendan Panikkar
About the Author

Brendan Panikkar is a graduate of Brock University's Sport Management program. Currently, he is the Vice-President, Customer Service at North Aware. He loves all sports but baseball and football take precedent over hockey and basketball. Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Raptors

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