Toronto Blue Jays Designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Assignment

The Toronto Blue Jays appear ready to sever ties with veteran catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia after a rough start.

On Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia had been designated for assignment. The Blue Jays also announced that Luke Maile had been called up to take Saltalamacchia’s place.

Without Saltalamacchia, the Blue Jays now have a catching tandem of Maile and Russell Martin. Maile, who was formerly property of the Tampa Bay Rays, made his debut with the Blue Jays against his former club on Friday night. Martin is now in the third year of a five-year, $82 million deal he signed after the 2014 season.

The switch-hitting Saltalamacchia, who signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays over the offseason, had been hitting .040/.077/.040 through 26 plate appearances. An 11-year veteran and former first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves, Saltalamacchia has hit .233/.307/.409 (91 OPS+) with 110 home runs over his career. He has now played with seven different teams.

A Few Rough Seasons in a Row

While Saltalamacchia has had a couple of solid seasons as a starter in the big leagues, he hasn’t had too much success since signing a three-year, $21 million deal with the Miami Marlins after the 2013 season.

However, after being released by the Marlins during the 2015 season, he did have a bit of a mini-rebound after signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Through 70 games with the D-Backs, Saltalamacchia hit .251/.332/.474 (113 OPS+) with eight home runs.

Saltalamacchia also hit 12 home runs in a reserve role with the Detroit Tigers last season, though he slashed just .171/.284/.346. Saltalamacchia has struggled with strikeouts at times in his career and had a 35.6 percent K-rate with the Tigers last year. Although the sample size was small, he had a 61.5 percent K-rate with the Blue Jays this year.

Despite the low average and high strikeout rate, Saltalamacchia should still be able to provide value as a backup catcher with occasional home run pop. He has a decent arm behind the plate as well. He had a 24 percent caught stealing percentage with the Tigers last year, though that was below the AL average of 29 percent.

Soon to turn just 32 years of age, it will be interesting to see if Saltalamacchia can find another job.

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