Red Sox Pry Saltalamacchia Loose From Rangers





The Deal
The Braves made Jarrod Saltalamacchia a supplemental first-round pick in 2003, and when they sent him to the Rangers in the Mark Teixeira trade four years later, he was one of the best young catchers in baseball. But Saltalamacchia failed to deliver on that promise in Texas, batting .255/.313/.388 in parts of five big league seasons, so as the trade deadline loomed the Rangers dealt him to the Red Sox for a pair of low-level minor leaguers, a player to be named and $350,000.

Boston has been searching for a long-term catcher with Victor Martinez headed to free agency and Jason Varitek aging, and Saltalamacchia will become a candidate for that role—though he's far from a sure thing. He batted .244/.326/.445 in 238 at-bats for Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was demoted in late April so that he could work through his throwing issues. (A mental block prevented him from consistently throwing the ball back to the pitcher.) Texas, which gave Saltalamacchia just five big league at-bats this year, gets a pair of interesting prospects in low Class A first baseman Chris McGuiness and short-season righthander Roman Mendez.

UPDATE: The Red Sox traded catcher Michael Thomas to the Rangers to complete the deal, whereupon Texas immediately announced that they will convert the 6-foot-4 righthander to pitcher (Aug. 14).
 
Rangers Acquire
Chris McGuiness, 1b
Age: 22. Position: 1B (66 G).
Born: April 11, 1988 in Charleston, S.C.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 210. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: The Citadel.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in 13th round of 2009 draft; signed June 24, 2009.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Greenville (SAL) LoA .298 78 282 41 84 20 1 12 46 53 59 2 .416 .504

McGuiness stands out most for his on-base ability, though that's not his only skill. He led NCAA Division I with 65 walks and ranked 12th with a .520 OBP as a junior at The Citadel in 2009, when the Red Sox drafted him in the 13th round and signed him for $100,000. He also has posted a .396 on-base percentage in little over a year of pro ball. McGuiness also has a chance to develop average power from the left side of the plate, and he's a slick fielder at first base.
 
Roman Mendez, rhp
Age: 20.
Born: July 25, 1990 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Red Sox, July 16, 2007.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Greenville (SAL) LoA 0 2 11.40 6 6 0 15 29 24 19 5 10 18 2.60
Lowell (NYP) SS 2 3 4.36 8 8 0 33 31 21 16 5 19 35 1.52
Total 2 5 6.56 14 14 0 48 60 45 35 10 29 53 1.85

Though he struggled in low Class A to start the season, prompting a demotion, Mendez had one of the best pure arms in the Red Sox system. Signed for $125,000 out of the Dominican Republic three years ago, he's still growing into his 6-foot-4 frame and could have a plus-plus fastball when he matures physically. He already can hit 98 mph on occasion. He's still refining a hard slider and a changeup, but they show promise.

Michael Thomas, c
Age: 21. Position: C (23 G).
Born: Dec. 5, 1988 in Houston.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Southern.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in 12th round of 2009 draft; signed June 30, 2009.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Greenville (SAL) LoA .156 31 90 9 14 2 1 2 6 12 42 1 .269 .267

Thomas failed to convert his plus raw arm strength and power into results over the span of 50 games as a position player. He hit a mere. 167/.251/.320 with six homers in 150 at-bats for Greenville in 2009 and '10, while throwing out 22 of 52 basestealers (30 percent). A lack of pitch recognition skills and unrefined receiving technique sealed Thomas' fate, so he readily accepted the position switch. Texas started him on a throwing program at its Surprise, Ariz., facility while he prepares for instructional league. According to Rangers correspondent Evan Grant, Thomas tried pitching only briefly while at Southern, where Red Sox-turned-Rangers scout John Booher first evaluated him.

Red Sox Acquire
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
Age: 25. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: 4 years remain (2011 through '14) prior to free agency ($418,580 salary in '10).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Texas (AL)
2008 .253 61 198 27 50 13 0 3 26 31 74 0 .352 .364
Texas (AL) 2009 .233 84 283 34 66 12 0 9 34 22 97 0 .290 .371
Texas (AL) 2010 .200 2 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 .200 .200
3-Year Totals .241 147 486 61 117 25 0 12 61 53 172 0 .315 .366

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