Earlier today, we took a look at the optimistic view for the Miami Marlins new shiny catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. While there is a decent chance the Saltalamacchia turns into a major boon for the Marlins, there is always a chance the signing could come back and haunt the Marlins.
One reason for a pessimistic view for Salty’s 2014 season is because of the fact that his batting average and on base percentage should face a major downward stumble, as his BABIP of .372 is unsustainable and well above his career .322 BABIP mark.
Another reason to believe that Salty’s numbers could decline in Miami is due to the ball parks size. Fenway is known as a much more friendly park to power hitters than Marlins Park. As we even mentioned in the best case scenario for him, a 20 home run season is not likely for Saltalamacchia.
With his power numbers expected to take a major dip, his ability to make contact becomes a major concern. Last season, Saltalamacchia struck out in nearly 30% of his at bats. That’s around the same mark he has sat around for his career. With him entering his 5th season in the major leagues, it’s something that’s highly unlikely to see drastic change for the upcoming season or the duration of his Marlins contract.
The last reason to be weary about Salty’s chances to repeat his 2013 success is the same reason that the Marlins were able to get him on such a discounted rate on the free agent market.
At the beginning of the off-season, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Saltalamacchia would be out of the Marlins price range. However, there were fewer than expected teams interested in his services than thought of before. Along with the Marlins, the Red Sox and Twins were the finalists to sign the slugging catcher.
During the off-season, ESPN’s Buster Olney wondered if a medical concern could be hindering the market for Saltalamacchia.
“I think the big question about Saltalamacchia — and believe me, you hear a lot of different things about a lot of different guys and I don’t know what’s in Jarrod’s file — but in some cases, some of the intransigence in the market is related to whatever’s in the medical file,” said Olney. “We saw it last winter with Mike Napoli where not only did the Red Sox reduce their file down to one year and $5 million but no other team jumped in based on the same information. With catchers, it’s certainly going to be one of the first things you’re going to look at. It says a lot that you have the Cubs and a number of other teams that are out there potentially looking at catchers, no one’s jumping up.”
It’s something that his agent flatly denied and the fact that Salty passed his physical with the Marlins is a good sign. It’s still something that needs to be watched, as catching is a position that usually takes a major toll on the player.
The worst case scenario for Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be to sustain some sort of injury and be in and out of the lineup for the Marlins, never developing any sort of rhythm. In this worst case scenario, Saltalamacchia would post .230/.290/.371 slash line with single digit home runs.
The worst case scenario would still be a major improvement for the Marlins from their catching position a season ago, but it would still be an epic disaster for the Fish. A season such as this would likely be a major detriment to the Marlins future plans. The team would once again would be stuck running Rob Brantly and Jeff Mathis more than they would wish in this scenario.