Saltalamacchia agrees to three-year deal

MIAMI –- Pending a physical, the Marlins are on the verge of landing their biggest free agent acquisition in more than a year.

On Tuesday night, Miami came to terms with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a three-year, $21 million contract, according to an industry source.

The Marlins have yet to make an official announcement.

Negotiations accelerated in the last day, when it was revealed on Monday that Miami had an offer on the table for the 28-year-old catcher, who had been with the Red Sox since 2010.

The pending signing marks a homecoming for Saltalamacchia, and he fills one of Miami’s biggest needs.

The Marlins and Saltalamacchia certainly are a strong fit. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder attended Royal Palm Beach High School, which isn’t far from where Miami has Spring Training in Jupiter, Fla.

Miami had been in the market for an offensive-minded catcher with some power. Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter coming off a solid season with Boston. He batted .273 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs for the World Series champs.

In parts of seven big league seasons, Saltalamacchia is a career .246 hitter with 78 homers and 275 RBIs.

Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, posted a career best 25 homers in 2012.

In each of the past two seasons, he has appeared in 121 games. His arrival means Jeff Mathis will handle backup catching duties, and Rob Brantly will likely open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

With a modest overall payroll, the Marlins were considered a surprise team to go after a high-profile free agent. Now, they landed one of the top catchers available.

Miami is considering trading some of its young pitching depth for impact bats. In case of the catcher position, that is no longer the case.

Joe Frisaro

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