Two major league sources said Monday night that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is unlikely to return to the Red Sox.
Saltalamacchia is the top catcher remaining on the free agent market and is expected to command at least a three-year contract. The Red Sox have held at two years.
The Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins have been negotiating with Saltalamacchia and a decision could be made soon. He is a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., and could find the Marlins attractive. The Twins are seeking a catcher after shifting Joe Mauer to first base.
Saltalamacchia, 28, hit .273 with an .804 OPS for the Sox last season. His 54 extra-base hits were the most for a catcher in the American League.
But after serving as the primary catcher for much of the regular season, Saltalamacchia lost playing time to David Ross in the postseason. Ross started the final three games of the World Series. Saltalamacchia was angry about the demotion and that helped spur his willingness to look elsewhere.
Ross, who turns 37 in March, is signed through next season. The Red Sox also have Ryan Lavarnway, who started 18 games last season. If the Sox look outside the organization, free agent A.J. Pierzynski is an option. Or they could make a trade.
The Sox have great faith in the ability of 23-year-old Christian Vazquez. But he has played only briefly in Triple A and would likely need more seasoning before bring ready for the majors.
Two cut loose
For righthanded reliever Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Kalish, the last few seasons have been marked by long stretches on the disabled list and major surgeries. On Monday, the Sox made them free agents.
The two were not offered contracts by the midnight deadline and are now free agents.
The Red Sox offered deals to the other unsigned players on their 40-man roster including five who are arbitration-eligible: righthander Burke Badenhop, first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, lefthander Andrew Miller, lefthander Franklin Morales, and righthander Junichi Tazawa.
Bailey was eligible for arbitration for a third time and stood to make at least $4 million next season. But he underwent extensive surgery on his throwing shoulder in July and is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
The Red Sox could retain Bailey on a minor league deal but he is expected to investigate what major league options he has first. Bailey, 29, simply could wait until he is healthy and make a decision then.
Bailey had two difficult seasons with the Red Sox since being obtained from Oakland before the 2012 season. He appeared in only 49 games and had a 4.91 ERA with the Sox. Thumb surgery cut short his first season.
Kalish, 25, is a story of lost potential. He made his debut with the Red Sox in 2010 and impressed team executives with his athleticism and feel for the game.
But Kalish injured his left shoulder playing for Triple A Pawtucket early in the 2011 season.
He returned to play 10 minor league games in August before returning to the disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck that required surgery. Kalish then had shoulder surgery in November.
Kalish returned in 2012 and played in 36 major league games, looking little like the player he once was. He had surgery on his right shoulder last January and spinal fusion surgery in August.
Kalish has not played since September of 2012 and his future is uncertain. The Red Sox are open to signing him to a minor league deal.
Under arbitration rules, Badenhop, Carp, Miller, Morales, and Tazawa are considered signed for 2014. If a deal cannot be worked out, a hearing would determine their salary for next season.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.