The Philadelphia Phillies today agreed on a three-year, $26 million deal with catcher Carlos Ruiz.
There is a club option for a fourth year and yearly bonuses of $500,000 if Ruiz appears in 125 games.
According to several major league sources, the Red Sox were in on the bidding for Ruiz but dropped out when the Phillies went to a third year.
At first glance, it seems like a wild overpay by Philadelphia. Ruiz will be 35 in January and is coming off a season that saw him hit .268/.320/.368. He had only 21 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs over 341 plate appearances. Ruiz was suspended for the first 25 games of the season for using a banned amphetamine.
Ruiz hit .303/.388/.454 from 2010-12. But can he recapture that level at his age?
Ruiz’s deal would seem like very good news for 28-year-old Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit .273/.338/.466 last season with 54 extra-base hits and 65 RBIs. If Ruiz is worth that much, Salty could land four years and $40 million, if not more.
That the Red Sox were actively bidding for Ruiz would suggest they were seeking a short-term option to pair with David Ross. That Ruiz also hits righthanded further suggests the Sox were more concerned about defense and length of contract than offense.
Does that mean Saltalamacchia is not coming back? Not necessarily, but the Ruiz deal makes that less likely.
The Red Sox would now seem to have these options:
1. Bite the bullet and sign Salty for more than they anticipated.
2. Go for an even bigger contract with free agent Brian McCann and hope he can morph into an acceptable DH down the road. But it seems unlikely the Red Sox would invest $60 million-$80 million (if not more) on McCann.
3. Sign free agent like Dioner Navarro or A.J. Pierzynski for a year or two.
4. Trade for a catcher.
The guess here? They make a trade and piece it together until Christian Vazquez is ready. They also have Dan Butler on the 40-man roster.
The Sox also have Ryan Lavarnway. But based on how sparingly he played when Ross was on the disabled list, Lavarnway is not viewed as a solution and could be part of a trade.