Jarrod Saltalamacchia is coming home.
The Miami Marlins officially signed the free agent catcher to a three-year, $21 million contract on Dec. 9.
The sides agreed to terms the previous week and officially announced the signing during the first day of baseball's winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Saltalamacchia, a native Floridian from Palm Beach County, will be asked to work with a Marlins rotation in which each of the five starters figure to be 25 or younger next season.
"I can't thank the Marlins organization, the ownership, coaches. I can't be in a better situation," Saltalamacchia said. "I'm excited about these young arms to be able to go out there and have them make me look good, like a lot of the pitchers did this past year."
The 28-year-old switch-hitter helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series this year, though he lost playing time to backup catcher David Ross late in the postseason. During the regular season, Saltalamacchia hit .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 121 games.
2013: 62-100, fifth place in NL East
TEAM MVP: RF Giancarlo Stanton was on track to lead the team in home runs and RBIs (24 and 62, respectively, heading into the final weekend of the season), but no player was more valuable to the team than rookie RHP Jose Fernandez. In an otherwise forgetful season for a team with 100 losses, Fernandez brought a welcome enthusiasm and an electric personality. Oh, and he went 12-8 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts -- with minimal run support from one of the worst offensive teams -- en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year award. Fernandez, who turned 21 on July 31, was 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 15 starts at home. He was the team's lone All-Star and, regardless of his team's record, he brought playoff-like electricity to the ballpark every time he pitched.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Much was expected of C Rob Brantly after he was obtained last summer in a trade with the Detroit Tigers. But his status as opening-day catcher diminished with an eventual demotion to the minor leagues. Perhaps the Marlins expected too much and rushed him to the majors too soon. But Brantly, 24, finished the season batting .211 with one homer and 18 RBIs in 67 games -- after he batted .290 with three homers and eight RBIs in 31 games in 2012. His defensive game wasn't much better.
TOP PROSPECT: LHP Andrew Heaney wasted no time showing his potential after the Marlins took him with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He went 9-3 with a 1.60 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) in 2013, including 5-2 with a 0.88 ERA for Class A Jupiter and 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville. Heaney, 22, is an Oklahoma State product who throws in the mid-to-low 90s. He could crack the Marlins' rotation some time in 2014 if he gets off to a fast start again at Jacksonville.
--RHP Carter Capps was acquired by the Marlins from the Mariners in a Dec. 11 deal that sent 1B Logan Morrison to Seattle. Capps, 23, went 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA in 53 appearances this year. He struck out 66 and walked 23 in 59 innings.
Morrison, 25, struggled the past two years with injuries. He batted .242 with six home runs in 85 games for the Marlins last season. However, he does have some pop in his bat, as he hit 23 homers for Miami in 2011.
Morrison became expendable when the Marlins signed 1B Garrett Jones to a free agent deal.
--1B Garrett Jones finalized a two-year, $7.75 million contract with the Marlins on Dec. 10. Jones, 32, hit .233 with 15 home runs in 144 games for the Pirates this year. Pittsburgh non-tendered him on Dec. 2, making him a free agent.
--INF Rafael Furcal, a three-time All-Star shortstop, has a new team and a new position. The 36-year-old veteran signed a one-year deal with the Marlins, with the contract reportedly worth $3 million plus incentives. Furcal missed all of last season with the St. Louis Cardinals following elbow surgery. The contract was not finalized pending a physical. Furcal, the 2000 NL Rookie of the Year for the Braves, has a career .281/.346/.403 hitting line with 113 homers and 585 RBIs in 1,605 games.
--OF/3B Chris Coghlan and RHP Ryan Webb were non-tendered by the Marlins on Dec. 2, making them free agents. Coghlan, 28, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2009 when he batted .321. He never hit above .268 since, and he batted .256 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 70 games this year. Webb, 27, went 2-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 66 games with Miami in 2013. He signed with the Orioles on Dec. 10.
--OF Jimmy Paredes was claimed off waivers by the Marlins from the Astros on Nov. 4. Paredes, 24, hit .192/.231/.248 with one homer, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases in 48 games for Houston this year.
--C Koyie Hill refused the Marlins' outright assignment to the minor leagues and became a free agent. Hill, 34, caught RHP Henderson Alvarez's no-hitter on the last day of the season. He played 18 games for Miami this year, hitting .155 with no RBIs.
--LHP Zach Phillips refused the Marlins' outright assignment to the minor leagues and became a free agent. Phillips, 27, went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three appearances for Miami this year.
--RHP Jose Ceda, RHP Stephen Ames, INF Gil Velazquez and 1B Joe Mahoney were outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans as the Marlins cleared room on their 40-man roster. Miami also lost two players off waivers, RHP Josh Wall (claimed by the Angels, and RHP Alex Sanabia (claimed by the Diamondbacks). Ceda, 26, last appeared in the majors in 2011. He missed nearly all of the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2012. Mahoney, 26, hit .276 with a homer and four RBIs in nine games for Miami this year. Ames, 25, made four relief appearances for the Marlins in 2013, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Velazquez, 33, made one hitless plate appearance in his lone major league game of the season.
--RHP Henderson Alvarez ended Miami's dismal season on a thrilling note, pitching the fifth no-hitter in Marlins history, with Miami winning 1-0 over Detroit on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning Sept. 29. Alvarez, whose season didn't start until July because of shoulder inflammation, finished the year with a 5-6 record and a 3.59 ERA. It was Alvarez's first no-hitter since he was seven years old playing Little League all in Venezuela. But even that no-no went only seven innings and not nine like the one against the Tigers.
--GM Mike Hill was promoted as the new president of baseball operations. He replaced Larry Beinfest, who was fired Sept. 27. Assistant GM Dan Jennings was promoted to replace Hill as GM.
--OF Jake Marisnick was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Sept. 30 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Recovery time is four-to-six weeks, so he is expected to be ready for spring training.
--2B Donovan Solano missed the last game of the season after getting hit in the head by a pitch on Sept. 28. The next day, Solano said he was fine and is looking forward to spring training.
--RHP Steve Cishek is ending the season on an impressive roll. He went into Sept. 28 with 29 consecutive saves, a franchise record. His last blown save was June 4. Overall, Cishek had 34 saves in 36 chances with a 2.36 ERA. He's eligible for arbitration this winter. He was given the "Good Guy" award by South Florida's media.
--C Jeff Mathis missed Miami's final three games with a broken right thumb. He initially bruised the thumb Sept. 9 but a second X-ray on Sept. 24 showed the fracture. Mathis missed the first month of the season with a broken collarbone. He will focus on coming to spring training healthy since he has a good shot at being the starting catcher on opening day in 2014. Mathis received the "Jeff Conine Mr. Marlin" honor as bestowed by South Florida's media. The award is giving to the player who best upholds the integrity of the game.
--INF Greg Dobbs said he actually signed his $1.7 million contract extension back in June. But it wasn't announced until Sept. 27 because he wanted to keep it private until the end of the season. Dobbs, Miami's main left bat off the bench, made $1.5 million in 2013. "I wanted them to know I wanted to be here, I wanted to be a part of turning this organization around," he said.
--RF Giancarlo Stanton went into Sept. 28 with 24 home runs -- certainly a respectable number but a disappointment after he finished second in the National League in 2012 with 37 home runs. Stanton estimates he missed out on about 10 home runs because of spacious dimensions at Marlins Park, according to MLB.com. "You love to see scoring, but you love to see home runs as well," he said. "You don't see them when you come (to Miami) -- from both sides."
--OF Brent Keys and RHP Anthony DeSclafani were tabbed by the Marlins as their minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Keys, 23, batted .346 in 95 games for Class A Jupiter to win the Florida State League batting title. DeSclafani, 23, went 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA combined for Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. Both will open the 2014 season in the minors, but DeSclafani has a shot to join the major league team some time later in the year.
--C Jeff Mathis received the "Jeff Conine Mr. Marlin" honor as bestowed by South Florida's media. The award is giving to the player who best upholds the integrity of the game.
--OF Alfredo Silverio, who had two Tommy John surgeries the past two years, was outrighted off the Marlins' 40-man roster and sent to Triple-A New Orleans. Silverio missed each of the past two years, as his elbow was reconstructed in May 2012, then again in June 2013. The Marlins acquired him as a Rule 5 draft pick from the Dodgers last December.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you make guys look silly up there, almost like they don't want to get in the box their second or third time, it's fun to watch." -- RF Giancarlo Stanton, on rookie RHP Jose Fernandez.
The Marlins look pretty good with their starting pitching, but they need to address offensive holes at third base and catcher. The front office will field plenty of offers for Giancarlo Stanton, but the Marlins won't part with him unless they're blown away by an offer. The payroll will be in the area of $37 million again, so the Marlins' options will be limited.
BIGGEST NEEDS: You would think the biggest lesson the front office learned this year is that their current formula for offense isn't working. The Marlins once again ranked among the worst offensive teams in runs, batting average and home runs. They need more pieces to build around slugger Giancarlo Stanton, and they might have to give up pitching prospects to get the right hitters. The front office's other miscalculation is its refusal to move in the fences at spacious Marlins Park, which has been an issue for Stanton and other hitters.
ARRIVALS: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (free agent from Red Sox), INF Rafael Furcal (free agent from Cardinals), 1B Garrett Jones (free agent from Pirates), RHP Carter Capps (trade with Marlins)
DEPARTURES: RHP Chad Qualls (free agent, signed with Astros), RHP Ryan Webb (non-tendered, signed with Orioles), 1B Logan Morrison (traded to Mariners)
FREE AGENTS: OF Matt Diaz, OF Austin Kearns, OF Juan Pierre, 3B Placido Polanco, OF/3B Chris Coghlan
Pierre loves Miami but he'd have to accept a bench role. Qualls could get an offer from the Marlins, but the others are less likely to return because they don't fit into Miami's plans.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Steve Cishek, LHP Mike Dunn, 1B Logan Morrison, OF Justin Ruggiano, RHP Kevin Slowey, OF Giancarlo Stanton
Cishek, Morrison and Stanton are locks to return. Slowey wants to return but might have to accept a long relief role. Ruggiano won't get tendered because he doesn't fit into the Marlins' plans.
IN LIMBO: Juan Pierre is both a front-office and fan favorite, but there's no room in the outfield for him. Miami could offer him a deal to return as a bench player but he might not be in the team's long-term plans.
--C Jeff Mathis (broken right thumb) missed Miami's final three games. He initially bruised the thumb Sept. 9 but a second X-ray on Sept. 24 showed the fracture. Mathis missed the first month of the season with a broken collarbone. He will focus on coming to spring training healthy.
--RHP Kevin Slowey (right forearm tightness) is on track to head into spring training healthy. Slowey threw off a mound Sept 25.
--OF Marcell Ozuna (torn ligament in left thumb) is expected to arrive for spring training healthy.
--RHP Jose Ceda (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) never pitched in the majors in 2013. He hopes to be ready by spring training.
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