And so the book has finally slammed shut on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's occasionally bright but oft-frustrating Rangers career, one which spanned four injury-fragmented seasons and just over 700 total plate appearances of .243/.309/.383-level offense. You figured a cashing-out deal of this sort was going to transpire at some point, but as he is wont to do, general manager Jon Daniels moved swiftly and aggressively to convert an ill-fitting piece into something of actual consequence -- high-upside talent.
The trade, consummated shortly before Saturday afternoon's 3:00 p.m. CDT non-waiver trade deadline, shipped Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox in exchange for a three-player package -- right-hander Roman Mendez, first baseman Chris McGuiness, and a player to be named later -- and cash considerations, confirmed by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark to amount to $350,000; this sum will reportedly be diverted towards the amateur draftee-signing budget.
Saltalamacchia has been thoroughly run into the ground already (see here, here and/or here if you'd like to relive this year's thrills), and McGuiness, while intriguing in the sense that he's clubbing the Low-A South Atlantic League to the tune of .298/.416/.504 with advanced plate discipline and decent power, is a bit old for this level of competition and doesn't boast much in the way of projection at this point; scouts' hearts generally don't skip a beat at the sight of old-for-their-league college hitters tearing up Low-A ball. No, the real key to this deal from the Rangers' perspective is Mendez, which is, by most accounts, a quality return for a player with no real future in the Texas organization.
Originally signed by Boston for $150,000 during the 2007 international signing period (which also yielded $1.5 million Red Sox bonus baby Michael Almanzar, the son of former Rangers reliever Carlos Almanazar), the 20-year-old flamethrower has witnessed his strikeout rate grow incrementally during his level-to-level ascent, and it's not difficult to comprehend why this is the case. Mendez brandishes a mid-90s fastball -- one thrown with "lightning-fast, whippy arm action" that has reportedly flirted with triple digits at various times -- and inconsistent but promising secondary pitches, prompting Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus to tender this assessment: "Huge ceiling, huge risk, but a great pickup in a trade like this."
A team's success rate with high-ceiling, high-velocity prospects as far removed from the majors as Mendez can't be any higher than 10-15 percent (even that is likely overstating things), but these are the sorts of players that can not only justify the acquisition and development costs a hundred times over if/when they actually do hit, but also prove attractive in trade negotiations when you need pot-sweeteners to bolster your offer. Baseball people love projection. Hell, we all love it. And if you can supplement your organizational talent cache with a player (Saltalamacchia) that I view mostly as a backup-type catcher at this point, then I think you're doing something pretty right.