It wasn't too long ago that Russell Martin looked like an up-and-coming superstar, hitting .293/.374/.469 with 19 homers while throwing out 33% of would-be base stealers as a 24-year-old in 2007. He started 143 games behind the plate that year, and it appears as though the heavy workload has taken its toll physically. Still just 27, there's a good chance the Dodgers will decline to tender Martin a contract before the December 2nd deadline.
Martin's 2010 season came to an abrupt end in early August, when an awkward step crossing the plate resulted in a hairline fracture in his right hip. Matt Colleran, Martin's agent, clarified the extent of the injury to MLBTR and provided an update on his status. "[The misstep] resulted in a hairline fracture in his hip, and there was absolutely no damage, tear or injury to his labrum," said Colleran. "In his last medical visit on November 4th, his medical reports confirmed that the fracture was healing quickly, there were no complications to the healing since the injury, no surgery was ever performed or needed, and again, there is, and never was, any damage sustained to his labrum whatsoever."
Prior to the injury, Martin had hit just .248/.347/.332 in 387 plate appearances, continuing a trend that has seen his AVG, OBP, and OPS decline for three straight years. From 2007 through 2009, no catcher started more games behind the plate or caught as many innings as Martin, and it's not particularly close either. The wear-and-tear may have simply been too much.
The Dodgers paid Martin $5.05MM in 2010, his second of four arbitration-eligible seasons (he's a Super Two). Even with the sub-par performance and hip injury, his salary would likely climb north of $6MM in 2011. Quality catching is a hot commodity, but the injury and declining performance combined with the potential salary could make Martin expendable in GM Ned Colletti's eyes.
Will the Dodgers non-tender Russell Martin?