The Miami Marlins have designated Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment. Saltalamacchia was on paternity leave and was given the news upon his return that the team has decided to go with rookie catcher J.T. Realmuto and backup catcher Jeff Mathis.
This comes after Saltalamacchia had expressed his displeasure with continually being benched in favor of Realmuto. Still, no one really saw this coming with the contract Saltalamachhia had been signed to.
Designating Saltalamacchia for assignment the day he returned from paternity leave is a little cold but not strange. What is strange is that the move comes just 16 months after the Marlins signed him as a free agent to a three-year $21 million deal. That seems pretty insane. The team still owes the nine-year veteran $15 million.
However, the Marlins were apparently not happy with Saltalamacchia’s performance last season. He went from playing in 121 games in 2013, hitting .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI for the Boston Red Sox to playing in 114 games and hitting just .220 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI with the Marlins in 2014.
That is not that huge of a difference in homers or RBI but his drop in batting average is obviously a concern. But to just drop a player who still has two years on his contract is certainly a surprise.
It’s unlikely (very unlikely) that the 30-year-old will be claimed off waivers with that contract hanging over his head but at some point, if the Marlins are really done with him (as in willing to pay his salary while he plays for another team),he should be able to find a part-time role somewhere.
The Marlins now have an official new starting catcher in 24-year-old Realmuto. So far this season Realmuto has appeared in 11 games. He is hitting .265 with nine hits including two doubles and a triple with two RBI.
Realmuto also got the call-up in September last season and played in 11 games. He hit just .241 but drove in nine runs during that span.
While it is a shock for the team to so suddenly DFA Saltalamacchia, it certainly appears the J.T. Realmuto is the one that the Marlins consider their catcher of the future.