The free-agent bidding for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz came down to Philadelphia and Boston, but the Phils went the extra mile to retain Ruiz by giving him three years guaranteed, plus a fourth-year option. MLBTradeRumors has a good round-up of the various details of the deal.
Ruiz gets $8.5 million a season for the three guaranteed years, while the fourth year is for $4.5 million, with a $500,000 buyout. Ruiz has a good reputation around the Phillies clubhouse, and has a pretty good offensive resume, despite a down year last season.
However, Ruiz has a performance-enhancing drug suspension on his resume, plus is entering his age-35 season.
Which leads us to: What exactly will be the market for Jarrod Saltalamacchia?
I've been thinking throughout this offseason that Salty will get at least $10 million per. There just aren't that many catchers who can hit 40 doubles in a season. The Ruiz contract does nothing to change my mind -- if anything, Salty can argue he's worth considerably more. He's six years younger than Ruiz, and his offensive numbers are headed in the right direction, with an OPS rising each of the last three years.
I wouldn't be surprised if his agents refuse comps to Ruiz and instead look to compare with Brian McCann, who is expected to look for a $100 million deal (and probably not get it, but still). I'm not saying Salty is McCann's equivalent -- but he's younger, has power, and has gotten at least a little more patient at the plate as he's aged. If you're his agent, your pitch is simple: Wouldn't you rather invest in a 28-year old with World Series experience, having worked with a veteran staff in a high-pressure market, having been durable up to this point, and who can hit 50+ extra-base hits, than older options with declining offensive numbers?
In any case, I think he'll price himself out of the Red Sox's market. Not that they can't afford him, just that I don't think they will value him as highly as some other team, flush with money and looking for power, will. I think the Sox might go all or nothing -- either try to bring in McCann on a big-money deal, or just try a Lavarnway-Ross combination, hoping that they hit on one of their bigger prospects at the position in the next year or two.