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Sources: Jarrod Saltalamacchia signs with Marlins for three years, $21 million

12.03.13 at 7:13 pm ET
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According to industry sources, free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins, pending a physical. The 28-year-old switch-hitter is coming off a career-best season, hitting .273 with a .338 OBP and .466 slugging mark, 14 homers and 40 doubles (most ever by a Sox catcher) in 121 games.

Saltalamacchia’s agreement comes on the same day that the Red Sox reached agreement with catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year, $8.25 million deal to serve as Saltalamacchia’s replacement. Pierzynski, 36, hit .272 with a .297 OBP, .425 slugging mark, 17 homers and 24 doubles (as well as one triple) in 134 games with the Rangers this year.

The Red Sox proved unwilling to go beyond two years in talks with Saltalamacchia, and ultimately preferred to go with an older catcher in Pierzynski (even if one coming off a down year in 2013) in order to maximize their options beyond the 2014 season, as the team has highly regarded Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart in the upper levels as potential big league frontline catchers, with Vazquez having a likely big league ETA of next season. While the team valued Saltalamacchia’s significant contributions in 2013 — particularly the impact he made as a game-changing force against right-handed pitching — they wanted to avoid obstructing the path of their prospects.

For Saltalamacchia, the deal with the Marlins represents an opportunity to play close to home. Saltalamacchia went to Royal Palm Beach High School, and he lives in driving distance of both Miami’s spring training facility in Jupiter (he would often drive to Jupiter from Fort Myers the night before Red Sox spring training games against the Marlins and their spring training co-habitants, the Cardinals) and the Marlins ballpark in downtown Miami.

The multi-year deal — the first of Saltalamacchia’s career — represents a significant milestone for a player whose future was in question when he was traded from the Rangers to the Red Sox at the July 31 deadline in 2010. But with the Sox over the last three years, he emerged as the team’s primary catcher, a streaky but at times formidable offensive presence in the bottom half of the lineup who represented an important part of the team’s clubhouse culture, and who was a key part of the Sox’ 2013 title run until his postseason struggles opened the door for teammate David Ross to serve as the catcher for the final three games of the World Series.

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