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Red Sox offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years, around $18 million

12.04.13 at 12:22 am ET
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According to multiple industry sources familiar with the talks, the Red Sox have been determined this offseason to limit offers to any free agent catchers to two years in order to avoid blocking the path to the majors of prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. The team’s conversations with free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia reflected that approach, with one industry source suggesting that the Sox and the catcher talked about structuring a two-year deal that featured incentives that would allow it to top out around $18 million.

Such a deal could have offered the 28-year-old a higher average annual value than the three-year, $21 million deal to which he ended up agreeing with the Marlins, but for Saltalamacchia, the desire for a three-year deal was absolute. Had the Sox offered the same three-year, $21 million guarantee that Miami ultimately presented, there would have been a strong chance that Saltalamacchia would have accepted in order to return to Boston. But the Sox never considered moving to that length.

Ultimately, that proved a deal-breaker — just as it had with Carlos Ruiz earlier in the offseason. While the Sox had been willing to go beyond two years with Brian McCann (before he signed his five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees), he represented a different degree of flexibility given that the team viewed him as having the offense to emerge as a future DH or first baseman by the third year of a deal. Saltalamacchia and Ruiz being pursued solely as a catcher, thus creating the possibility of a bottleneck for Vazquez and/or Swihart.

Hence, the Sox felt that their best course — with McCann and Ruiz off the market and no common ground for Saltalamacchia — was to sign A.J. Pierzynski for one year at $8.25 million, a contract that will permit the team the greatest degree of flexibility entering 2015.

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