Monday's baseball: Former Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia retires

Detroit News staff and wires
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, right, played last season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Veteran catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who spent last season in the Detroit Tigers organization, announced his retirement Monday.

Baseball writer Ken Rosenthal reported Saltalamacchia's decision in a Facebook post.

Saltalamacchia, 33, spent most of last season with the Toledo Mud Hens where he appeared in 67 games and hit .174/.285/.284 with 28 RBIs and five home runs.

More:Saltalamacchia learning to be a teacher with Mud Hens

He also appeared in five games with the parent Tigers, going 0-for-7 at the plate. 

It was his second stint with Detroit, having played with the Tigers in 2016 when he appeared in 92 games and hit .171/.284/.346.

Saltalamacchia's 13-year major league career spanned both American and National leagues where he played in in 895 games while batting  .233/.306/.408 with 381 RBIs and 110 home runs.

He started with the Atlanta Braves in 2007 before moving to the Texas Rangers where played over four seasons (2007-10). He then played four seasons with the Boston Red Sox (2010-13) and two years with the Miami Marlins (2014-15) before joining the Tigers in 2016. He also played with Arizona and Toronto.

Ex-Tiger questions priorities

After finalizing a $10 million, two-year contract with the New York Mets, reliever Justin Wilson concluded that the number of teams not pursuing free agents has damaged the market.

“I think for the role that I pitch in, late in the game and high-leverage situations, there are only certain teams that are willing to spend money to compete,” Wilson (a Tiger in 2016 and part of 2017) said Monday during a conference call. 

“There is a lot of the league that rather make money than win, which if you’re a player isn’t very fun because we play this game to win. I don’t go into (the) season with any other goal than a World Series. So having two-thirds of the league not really involved in that, not trying to win a championship, does hurt free agency.”

Astros ace Justin Verlander, another former Tiger, was quoted last weekend by the Houston Chronicle expressing similar sentiments.

“The biggest detriment to our game right now is the non-competitiveness of two-thirds of the league,” Verlander was quoted as saying. “I think that’s why you’re seeing free agents not get signed.”

With spring training camps starting to open in two weeks, only 62 of the 164 players who exercised free-agent rights after the World Series have announced agreements.

“At the end of day you want every team to want to win the World Series,” Wilson said. “I’m not saying they don’t. But clearly there is some disconnect between teams wanting to make their top dollar and spend money to win.”

This year’s pace of announced agreements is up from 47 at a similar date last offseason. But it is down from the historical trend, such as 82 at the same time two years ago. There were 77 agreements announced from Feb. 6-24 last winter.

Royals, infielder OK deal

The Royals and versatile second baseman Whit Merrifield agreed to a $16.25 million, four-year contract that covers Merrifield’s arbitration years and includes up to $2 million in performance bonuses, a person familiar with the terms told the Associated Press on Monday. 

The deal also includes a fifth-year team option worth $10.5 million, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not become official.

Merrifield hit .304 with an American League-leading 192 hits and 45 stolen bases last season. He also hit 12 homers and with 60 RBIs while playing a solid second base defensively, and he’s capable of playing first base, third base and all three outfield positions.

Around the horn

Former Padres pitcher Jose Torres has avoided jail time in a domestic violence case.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge in Phoenix sentenced Torres to two years of probation Monday. He pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault in November.

Torres was arrested in December 2017 and accused of brandishing a handgun during a dispute and pointing it at his wife. He was also accused of knocking a door off its hinges at their Phoenix home and punching a hole in another door.

... The Rays have agreed to minor league contracts with five players, including veteran infielder Emilio Bonifacio.

... The Caribbean Series starting next week has been moved from Venezuela to Panama for security reasons.