Forget Carlos Ruiz. He won't be coming to Boston, not after agreeing to a three-year, $26 million contract -- with a club option for a fourth year -- to stay with the Phillies.
Not that anyone really wanted Ruiz -- well, maybe the Red Sox did (more on that later) -- but he was a viable alternative in case the Sox lost Jarrod Saltalamacchia . . . which, judging by the lowball offer they reportedly made him (two years, less than $10 million a year), they stand a good chance of doing.
Now the market for catchers has been set. If the 35-year-old Ruiz, stained by a PED suspension and coming off a year in which he posted a weak .688 OPS, can secure a three-year deal at nearly $9 million a season, what can prime-of-lifers like Saltalamacchia and Brian McCann command?
More than two years and less than $10 million a year, that's for sure. Especially since there are some deep-pocketed teams, the Red Sox among them but also the Yankees and others, in the market for a catcher.
The Sox apparently were serious about Ruiz; Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported it was "a very close call" between the Red Sox and Phillies for Ruiz. He would have served as a short-term bridge to the next wave of catching prospects (Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart) in case Ryan Lavarnway can't make that final leap to big-league regular.
The Sox' options now appear to be . . .
-- Resign themselves to paying Saltalamacchia more than they originally budgeted (if, in fact, he's still willing to return),
-- Cross their fingers and hope Lavarnway and David Ross will prove to be an acceptable combination until Vazquez and/or Swihart are ready for promotion,
-- Look for another short-term solution, like A.J. Pierzynski, though his financial boat was also just lifted by the Ruiz tide, or
-- Try to find a catcher in a trade.
Unless it's via a trade, it's probably going to cost them more than they wanted to pay. Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies saw to that.