JUPITER, Fla. — Jarrod Saltalamacchia said he was disappointed that the Red Sox made the lowest offer among the six teams who bid for his services as a free agent and that the team never moved off a two-year offer that wasn’t completely guaranteed.
The Red Sox, here playing the Cardinals Wednesday and Saltalamacchia’s Marlins on the other side of the facility Thursday, signed veteran A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal instead, with an eye toward using their young catchers, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, down the road.
Saltalamacchia never revealed the Red Sox’ offer, but he said it was nowhere near the three-year, $21 million deal he made with his hometown Marlins.
“We had a few options,” Saltalamacchia said. “No one was as low as the Red Sox. Out of six or seven, they were the lowest. I didn’t understand that. I was disappointed.
“I definitely wanted to stay. I enjoyed every minute that I was there. Guys go their whole career wanting to play there and never get a chance, let alone win a World Series when you’re there.
“They just weren’t interested because they had some young guys coming up and I understood that because I was in that position when I was coming up. This was ultimately a good choice for me.”
Saltalamacchia, 28, who made great strides offensively and defensively last season, said late in the season that he wanted to spend the rest of his career with the Red Sox, but the team never engaged in talks with him.
“I wasn’t asking for the moon based on what I got here,” he said. “But they weren’t willing to go anywhere near that. I was shocked. The more I thought about it, I realized, based on how they felt, that they didn’t offer me anything during the year. I don’t think that was ever a goal for them.
“Wanting to go with their young guys seemed to be the major reason. That’s the only thing that made sense to me because I wasn’t asking for a lot. I wasn’t asking for $15 million, $13 million, or $12 million. I was just asking for what was fair. I still think of myself as a young catcher.”
Saltalamacchia said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington expressed interest in bringing him back.
“He was hoping I would stay and I told him I was hoping I would stay,” Saltalamacchia said. “We just couldn’t come together for anything more than two years, and even within the two years there were a number of options and what-ifs attached. I think I deserved to have at least something guaranteed.”
Saltalamacchia was benched in the World Series.
“You want to play,” he said. “You work so hard during the course of the year to get to that point and I felt I was a big part of that. You get there and by the end of the day we won. I’d be more upset if I didn’t play and we lost it. That’s the ultimate goal.
“Rossy [David Ross] was in there Game 1 and we won. I was in there Game 2 and we lost. I don’t know if it was because of me we lost, but Rossy did a good job. If I’m a manager and I see that you have a guy who’s winning and doing a good job, I have no hard feeling toward it. We won, I got a ring.”
Saltalamacchia also spoke about his relationship with manager John Farrell.
“We didn’t talk much,” he said. “It was tough. We had meetings about it. I told him my feelings, he told me his. At the Winter Meetings he came up to me, shook my hand and congratulated me. Same here.”
With the Marlins he could bat anywhere from cleanup to sixth. If healthy, he expects to catch 120 games. He’s expected to be a leader of a young pitching staff, trying to build and nourish it after overseeing the World Series champion staff.
He has one of the best young pitchers in the game in rookie of the year Jose Fernandez.
“It’s a good group of guys, good coaching staff, relaxed,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’s different, of course. I feel I can be a leader, but I’m not coming in here trying to change or do anything drastic. You’ve got guys here like [Giancarlo] Stanton who have been here so I’m trying to follow their lead a little bit and see how things go around here. If they seek my advice, I can give that based on my experience with a winning team. That’s what we’re trying to build here.”
But he never will forget Boston, where he played a huge role in the charitable efforts after the Boston Marathon attacks.
“It’s tough for many reasons,” he said. “So many friends I made, so many charitable contributions that I was a part of. What that city went through and the people in it and the casualties, it makes it tougher to leave that behind. That’s why coming back to my hometown helps that a little bit. At least I’m home now.”Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.