Marlins designate Salty for assignment

Signed through '16, veteran struggled at and behind plate, while prospect Realmuto emerged

Marlins designate Salty for assignment

MIAMI -- When the Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year contract after the 2013 season, they envisioned the veteran solidifying the catcher position. But less than one month into his second season with the organization, Miami is cutting ties with the West Palm Beach native.

The Marlins designated Saltalamacchia for assignment on Monday, giving the club 10 days to either trade of release the catcher, who is off to a rough 2-for-29 (.069) start.

Prompting the move is the emergence of J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins' No. 2-ranked prospect according to MLB.com.

Realmuto turns two

"An extremely difficult decision, just given who Salty has been and what he's done in his career," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "But really, we took a step back and looked at the emergence of J.T. There is no secret he's been groomed as our catcher of the future. We sent him out of Spring Training early, just so he could get regular at-bats for his eventual ascension to the big leagues."

The Marlins placed Saltalamacchia on the league's paternity list on Friday, when they also selected the contract of catcher Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A New Orleans.

Solano, who is out of options, is regarded as a strong defensive catcher. The club risked losing his services if he were designated, which also factored into the Saltalamacchia decision.

Realmuto, 24, was the Marlins' third-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. A former high school quarterback and shortstop, Realmuto brings athleticism to the catcher position. In 2014, Realmuto was part of Double-A Jacksonville's Southern League championship team.

He also appeared in 11 big league games. Realmuto possesses leadership skills that should continue to grow now that he is the everyday catcher.

"This way, I think, going forward was the best decision for our ballclub," manager Mike Redmond said. "J.T. has done a great job. He handles our pitching staff well. It's best for us, going forward."

After being part of a World Series championship team with the Red Sox in 2013, Saltalamacchia signed a three-year, $21 million deal with Miami. Scheduled to make $7 million this year and $8 million in 2016, the catcher is still owed roughly $14.2 million.

A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia was Miami's Opening Day catcher. But he had 12 strikeouts in 29 at-bats, and he struggled behind the plate as well, committing two errors in nine games while throwing out 2-of-9 basestealers. In 2014, Saltalamacchia batted .220 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 114 games, committing 15 errors.

"It's never fun seeing one of your teammates, one of your friends, in that position," Realmuto said. "It's kind of a tough situation. But all we can do as a team is move forward and try to keep winning games."

Mathis leaves game

Realmuto got called up on April 13 after Jeff Mathis fractured his right hand.

"When Mathis got hurt and we called [Realmuto] up, we weren't going to bring him up to have him sit," Hill said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.