The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a one-year contract, the team announced. The 30-year-old will get the Major League minimum because the Miami Marlins are still clocked to pay $8 million of his 2016 salary.
Saltalamacchia wanted to find a starting job, but Detroit will have him compete for a backup job behind starting catcher James McCann. It will be Saltalamacchia and Bryan Holaday competing for the job behind McCann.
Holaday, 28, slashed .281/.292/.453 with 18 hits, two home runs and 13 RBI across 24 games in 2015, which included 64 at-bats. The right-handed hitting catcher has played in at least a part of the last four seasons for Detroit, which accumulates his entire Major League career. Over his career, Holaday has hit .283 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 108 games played.
The native of Texas was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Tigers, while Saltalamacchia was the 36th overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves. Holaday started his Big League career in 2012, but Saltalamacchia got his first action in 2007.
"Jarrod provides catching depth to our roster and is a veteran presence," general manager Al Avila said in a release. "As a switch hitter he adds some power from the left side of the plate. He will compete for a roster spot in spring training."
Saltalamacchia has played for the Braves, Marlins, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks over his nine-year Major League career. His best season came in 2013 with Boston. The switch hitter was able to slash .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI through 121 games. He slugged 25 home runs in 2012, but struggled with a .222 batting average.
Since catchers are injured quite often, the Tigers could carry three catchers on their roster, but it is unlikely. Both Saltalamacchia and Holaday are not dominant behind the plate on the defensive end, so it will likely come down to who can hit the ball better in spring training.
The Tigers have made a good amount of moves in the recent days, which indicates that the 2015 Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee could be pretty quiet for the team form the Motor City. If they make a move, it will be for a bullpen pitcher.
As for the status of the backup catcher position between Saltalamacchia and Holaday, only time will tell.