Miami went on a spending spree after the 2011 season and added All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. When that didn't lead to success, the Marlins jettisoned most of their stars and cut payroll to about $42 million this year.
Now Miami is in addition mode again, agreeing last week to a $21 million, three-year contract with the catcher, who helped Boston win the World Series title. The Marlins don't give no-trade clauses, so another sell-off always is a possibility if Miami fails to improve on this year's 62-100 record and last-place finish in the NL East.
"I was never really worried about anything but things that I can control," Saltalamacchia said Monday when he was introduced at the winter meetings. "I can control the way I go out there and prepare for a game. I can control my preparation and my plan of attack of every hitter, every at-bat. So I was never really focused on anything other than what I can control and my teammates."
In his third and final season with the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia hit a career-best .273 with 15 homers, 40 doubles and 65 RBIs. But he slumped to .188 in the postseason and was benched for the final three games of the World Series.
"He cares about the guy on the mound. I think he embodies everything you're looking for in a catcher," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He worked hard at shortening up his transfer time, shortening up on becoming a little more efficient in his blocking. At the same time, he's working on two different swings. There is a lot on his plate. You know, to his credit he was able to see what his market was."
Saltalamacchia, also pursued by Minnesota, gets $6 million next year, $7 million in 2015 and $8 million in 2016, the highest-paid player on a team that ranked 29th this year in salaries, ahead of only the Houston Astros.
As Saltalamacchia's wife and three young daughters looked on, Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill called Salty "a proven winner and a leader."
The 28-year-old Saltalamacchia grew up north of Miami in the Palm Beach area.
"This was a perfect fit," he said. "The Marlins made it known that I was a big part of their organization going forward, and they wanted me to be a part of it. Watching these guys on TV, all these young arms, and just getting really excited about that. But I loved my time in Boston. I had a great time with those guys. Still talk to them. They're going to be friends for life. But in this business there's always things that happen."