Remember when Saltalamacchia was the key prospect acquired by the Rangers in the July 2007 Mark Teixeira trade that also netted Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz? Now, the switch-hitter’s future is murky following injury issues and problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher, a la Rube Baker in Major League II.
Salty has struggled in the majors to this point, batting .251/.313/.388 in 874 PA. His wOBA is .306, and his wRC+ is 82. While the 25-year-old hasn’t been a total hacker, his 8.1% walk rate is a bit below the big league average, and he has punched out 31.1% of the time. The 6-4, 235 pound specimen hasn’t pounded the ball, either, with a .137 Isolated Power. Behind the dish, Sean Smith‘s Total Zone pegs him as five runs below average per 1,200 innings. Salty missed time in 2008 with a forearm strain, and then he had to undergo right shoulder surgery in 2009 for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This spring, he battled a back injury.
At Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, Salty had a .244/.326/.445 line in 270 PA. He’s walked 9.3% of the time, punched out 25.2% and posted a .201 ISO. While it’s hard to evaluate this trade without knowing the significance of the PTBNL, Saltalamacchia looks like a worthwhile reclamation project for Boston. He’s still relatively young and he’s under team control for several years to come, which makes him a possible alternative to pending free agent Victor Martinez.
Salty’s fantasy value is nil for the rest of the season. His bat no longer looks special, and he must prove durable while not embarrassing himself defensively. Don’t totally write him off, though. The offensive bar is set low for backstops (.251/.324/.383 MLB average), and he’s got enough offensive ability to clear that mark if he can avoid face-planting in the other aspects of catching.
Pittsburgh picked up Snyder in what amounts to an Arizona salary dump — the only semi-useful item the D-Backs got back was Carrasco, a middle reliever non-tendered by the White Sox last winter. Snyder, 29, will make $5.75 million in 2011, and he’s got a $6.75 million club option for 2012 ($750,000 buyout). Arizona sent $3 million to the ‘Burgh as part of the trade.
With the Pirates, Snyder will take over as the starting catcher. Ryan Doumit, due off the DL soon, will only catch occasionally while getting re-acclimated to first base and the corner outfield. ZiPS doesn’t see a huge difference between the two from an offensive standpoint (.339 rest-of-season wOBA for Snyder, .333 for Doumit). This is a quality move for the Bucs, however, given the modest financial investment involved and the spare parts surrendered in the trade. Snyder’s not known as a defensive stalwart and his 2009 season was marred by a back ailment, but Doumit’s injury history is even more checkered — he tore his left hamstring in 2006, sprained his left wrist and ankle in 2007, fractured his left thumb in 2008, suffered a right wrist injury that required surgery in 2009 and has dealt with concussion-like symptoms in 2010.
Snyder’s owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues right now. He’s got solid secondary skills for a catcher, and ZiPS projects him to bat .240/.345/.417 for the rest of the year. You could do worse if you need some help behind the plate.