Salty entered the 2016 season on the heels of a late-career power spike, and his six-homer outburst in his first 13 games of the season further fanned the flames of optimism. However, his bat stalled soon after it left the station last year, and he finished with career-worst figures in each of the triple-slash categories. He hit half of his homers and most of his doubles in the first three weeks of the season, after which he limped his way to an anemic .150/.270/.256 line in 248 plate appearances the rest of the way. The 10-year veteran is still young enough for a rebound, and switch-hitting catchers have long lifespans in MLB, but beware that even the upside is a stat line full of holes, much like his swing. Did we mention that he had a career-high 35.6 percent strikeout rate last season? Even after signing a deal to likely be Russell Martin's backup in Toronto, the gaps in his game make him a high-risk pick in deeper leagues.
Saltalamacchia's workload this season will heavily depend on how much work starter Russell Martin wants to take on, Corey Long of MLB.com reports. Manager John Gibbons said he isn't far from disclosing the Jays' planned pitching rotation this season. In the process of making that announcement, he will also figure out how he wants to utilize the backup catcher. The skipper added that he'll look to identify which pitcher Saltalamacchia meshes with best early in the campaign before making a set schedule for the catchers. Ultimately, though, the divvying of playing time will be up to Martin. "Really, it's going to revolve around Russ and when he needs a day," Gibbons said. In 2016, Martin logged his heaviest workload in seven season, but the gritty veteran is unlikely to cede any time behind the dish if he can avoid it. For now, Saltalamacchia is nothing more than a handcuff for Martin owners and a punt in daily leagues when he's called upon.
Saltalamacchia will enter camp as the favorite to back up starting catcher Russell Martin, Keegan Matheson of MLB.com reports. This news contradicts another story from MLB.com that suggests A.J. Jimenez will be the team's backup. With the latter out of options, the Jays risk losing the 26-year-old Jimenez to waivers if they opt for Saltalamacchia on Opening Day. Saltalamacchia will be entering his 10th big league season and has a career .234/.309/.413 slash line. A savvy veteran he may be, but a fantasy asset he's not. Even if Saltalamacchia beats out Jimenez this spring, he won't be worth a roster spot in most formats if Martin remains healthy.
Saltalamacchia agreed to a minor league contract with the Blue Jays on Tuesday, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Saltalamacchia was hot out of the gates with Detroit last season, smacking six homers in his first 12 games, but he finished with a .171 average and 69 wRC+ in 292 plate appearances. He'll get a chance to compete for the backup role behind Russell Martin, and while he has enough power to reach double-digits in home runs even in a reserve role, the 31-year-old sells out for that power (30.5 percent strikeout rate for career) and that makes him a huge liability in the batting average category.
Saltalamacchia became a free agent Monday after the Tigers did not extend him a qualifying offer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. Saltalamacchia had a couple spurts of success with Detroit, but overall his numbers were among the worst of his career. He'll likely look to sign a minor league contract somewhere if he can't garner a backup catching job.
Saltalamacchia went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday. Since the start of August, Salty has gone 6-for-54 (.111) with two extra base hits and nine walks. His batting average has dropped well below Mendoza at .179 and his OPS sits at .675. Platoon-mate James McCann has just a .646 OPS on the season, but while Saltalamacchia's game is on the slide, McCann's is on the rise (16-for-50 since mid-August). Salty is a risk in any fantasy lineup at this point.