Jarrod Saltalamacchia is taking his talents to South Beach.

The 28-year-old catcher has agreed in principle to a three-year deal that will pay him $21 million:

It’s a surprising move, especially considering the Marlins had a fire sale last offseason. It now brings up the question: Are the Marlins ready to compete?

For a team with a young core of good pitching, the move makes sense and provides great value compared to the other catchers signed this offseason.

And let’s not forget, Saltalamacchia is a huge upgrade over what the Marlins had in place last year:

Offensively, there’s no comparing Salty to Jeff Mathis and Rob Brantly. He’s superior in every offensive category, and the Marlins have a definite upgrade there.

Where the issue might be is defensively and his ability to throw out runners. But then again, all you have to do is look at who he will have on the mound. Jose Fernandez (2.19 ERA, 0.979 WHIP) and Henderson Alvarez (3.59 ERA, 1.140 WHIP) are just two of the young guns he’ll have as battery-mates. They’ll only get better in 2014.

Then you have Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and a lot of other arms in the minor leagues that Salty will use to his benefit.

So, we know it’s a good move for the Marlins. But what makes it a good move compared to the other catchers that have signed?


Comparing Saltalamacchia to Other Recently-Signed Catchers

Salty was nowhere near the best catcher on the market. But looking at his deal, the Marlins have made off like bandits.

Here’s how he compares to other recently-signed catchers:

*Note: A.J. Pierzynski’s deal was reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney.


So, when you look at the numbers next to each other, it seems like the Marlins got a great deal when they signed Saltalamacchia.

There’s no question Brian McCann is one of the best catchers in the game. But is he worth $10 million more a year than Saltalamacchia? He compared well to McCann in 2013. But what about 2012?

McCann batted .230/.300/.399 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI, while Salty batted .222/.288/.454 with 25 home runs and 59 RBI. The numbers are very comparable, but yet McCann still makes a lot more than Saltalamacchia.

Of course, there will be those that point to McCann’s seven all-star appearances and five Silver Sluggers. But in a game where the “What have you done for me lately” mentality reigns supreme, McCann hasn’t been $10 million more per year impressive.

We can look at Carlos Ruiz’s numbers as well. He’s only hit double-digits in home runs once and, like Salty, has never thrown out more than 29 percent of base-stealers. Yet he’s worth $5 million more over three years than Saltalamacchia.

Nothing about the stats over the last few years scream those players are that much better than Saltalamacchia.


The Perfect Piece

While the Marlins needed an upgrade at catcher, they also needed someone who has won before in the locker room. Salty has won before.

As we’ve seen in years past, it’s not always about finding the sexiest piece, it’s about finding the right piece. The Red Sox found that with Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli this past season. The Giants found it with Marco Scutaro in 2012.

This is not to say the Marlins will win the World Series in 2014. There are still a few improvements needed offensively. But there’s no reason to believe they can’t make some noise in 2014.

After all, they won 62 games with their ragtag bunch last year. Imagine what having Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich for a full season will do? Marisnick was one of the key pieces that came over from Toronto in last year’s blockbuster.

Anything can happen in baseball. As we’ve seen with the Athletics, as long as you have great pitching and a few solid veterans, you can have success.

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