Non-Tender Candidate: Russell Martin

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?

Click here to vote and here to see the results. Thanks in advance.


54 Responses to Non-Tender Candidate: Russell Martin Leave a Reply

  1. Ole_Nivek 5 years ago

    man, the kemp/loney/martin trio fell apart fast

  2. Ben_Cherington 5 years ago

    Theo..try to get martin before we try to get rod barajas

    • PookieGonzales 5 years ago

      SO much better idea then Barajas. What’s his lefty/righty splits? If he hits lefty’s well then he would be a perfect fit.

      • wickedkevin 5 years ago

        For some reason, a duo of Salty and Martin is so risky yet so satisfying of an idea to me.

        • Ben_Cherington 5 years ago

          probably bc the idea of barajas is so scary!

  3. Garafraxaguy 5 years ago

    Martin has Blue Jay written all over him.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      He’s one of the guys I am hoping AA can target. Even in a very down year, he still ended up with a .347 OBP and that’s with a poor average. His power has fallen though.

      However, unlike with the Dodgers, he wouldn’t have to play catcher all that much and it would help his body too. Arencibia would get bulk of the games, Molina would catch Morrow and Martin can occasionally get a few games in here and there but the reason for targeting him is because he can also play the 1st base for us in because we have no idea how Lind will do there for the whole season. He would make a solid buy-low option and I believe a change of scenery can help him too.

      Even if he doesn’t get non-tendered, I wouldn’t mind giving up a low-to-mid-level prospect for him. He’s still young and has the potential to turn it around.

      • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

        Martin has never played 1st. At least not in the majors. He does have experience at 3rd though.

        The Dodgers never seemed to notice Martin’s high OBP. They just seemed to see that his average fell.

        • markjsunz 5 years ago

          It has more to do with money.McCourt would whore out his mother to make a buck I would expect a ok defense no offense guy to catch. No way McCourt will give Martin a payday. Kemp, Eithier, and looney will not be far behind.

      • Russell Martin isn’t a first baseman…he doesn’t have the bat for it and hasn’t played the position. Martin has real value as a catcher, but he’s Casey Kotchman at best as a first baseman.

      • Russell Martin isn’t a first baseman…he doesn’t have the bat for it and hasn’t played the position. Martin has real value as a catcher, but he’s Casey Kotchman at best as a first baseman.

    • bluejayspwn 5 years ago

      yep him and jp would make a great fit

    • Gumby65 5 years ago

      Well, he does have a blue “J” written right before the “Martin”…..

  4. j96 5 years ago

    He will not be a jay cost way to much unless LA pays half his contract and takes a low end prospect for him

  5. Potrzeba 5 years ago

    For the love of God Theo, trade for Martin! I don’t want barjas, or olivo.

  6. Superman 5 years ago

    If a 33 year old Joaquin Benoit can get an Annual Salary of 5.5M based on one superb season, I think a 27 year old catcher who still has that upside and potential to be a good regular catcher is worth roughly 6M. Plus he’s controllable for more than just one year if he gets it together.

    • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

      That’s an excellent way to put it in perspective.

  7. basemonkey 5 years ago

    Yes, yes, it has not been ideal thus far for Martin, but he is still not old. He may or may not get expensive soon. THough the bright side might be that this type of performance suppresses his price. That said in this kind of market, majorleague catchers are a very rare commodity right now. It might change in a season or two from now, but in this market, I think the Dodgers do themselves a favor by hanging onto him. Martin might effectively become a stopgap option until a longterm solution presents itself. Right now I don’t know if that player is out there, for any team, even if you are willing to pay.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      I agree. Catchers are a hot commodity and Martin can still be a good year, he is still young and can turn it around.

      I think Dodgers do tender him but I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded him. He’s declined continuously over the past year and is just not working out there anymore.

      • johnsilver 5 years ago

        Martin may be another of the players that could shine once gets out of that grand canyon of a stadium. he does not have ‘light tower power” and a more hitter friendly stadium could be just what he needs. fenway would be an ideal place, especially with 3 more years of control, but also be wary of trading for him with a huge salary already, bidding on the open market and him being non tendered is the only way. 5M+ is way too much for what anyone is going to currently (Including LAD) get.

        • cubfan4life 5 years ago

          There are a handful of teams who could get in on Martin. If he is tendered a contract then im sure there will be teams who call to see what it would take to get him. If he is non tendered you could probably see a fit with anywhere from 10-15 teams. Unless the injury is more severe than LA is letting on.

          His value is not in being a HR hitter. He can be a high OBP, doubles, gap to gap power guy and be very good when that is what you expect out of him. He’ll hit a handful of HRs but he isnt a true HR guy.

          A team that makes a ton of sense is Boston but i also think that he would fit in very well in Seattle, Colorado, and Chicago (AL). But like i said you could make a case for anywhere from 10-15 teams based on whether or not he is non tendered.

          • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

            He’s hardly a fly ball type hitter, so a smaller park isn’t the solution. The problem seems to be that he’s been trying to compensate for the lack of power by pulling the ball. Major League pitchers figure out a player like that, which I’d say is the main reason why his plate productivity is down. I’m hoping a new batting coach will work with him on hitting more to right field. He has always been poor at hitting behind runners.

          • Gumby65 5 years ago

            I didn’t realize LA was expecting him to hit all of those big fly’s you speak of. When Martin is/was at his best, it was a double to right-center.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      I agree. Catchers are a hot commodity and Martin can still be a good year, he is still young and can turn it around.

      I think Dodgers do tender him but I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded him. He’s declined continuously over the past year and is just not working out there anymore.

  8. Cashman needs to pull another ninja move to acquire him.

    Montero/Martin platoon at C would make me drool. Perhaps Phelps/Laird for Martin?

  9. BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

    I predict that Martin is tendered a contract with performance bonuses, unless the Dodgers know more about the extent of his injury than has been revealed here, or anywhere else.

    • GilFisher 5 years ago

      Tender a contract with performance bonuses?? Not how it works.

      • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

        I’m not entirely sure if it’s possible under the MLB rules, but he’s under team control, so I presume the player and the team can agree to whatever contractural arrangement they both believe to be fair. I realize that the player can force the team to either tender or release, but if his ability to play is in question, then I don’t see Martin forcing that decision, and instead giving the Dodgers a reason to deal with him. After all, he won’t get any better on the free agent market.

        • Once they tender him a contract he is eligible for the arbitration salary…the Dodgers would have no leverage after they decide to keep him. Your scenario can’t happen.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            Not exactly true. They can offer him a 3/$10 mil deal and his salary is what it is.

          • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

            You miss my point. The Dodgers’ other option is to release him, in which case he becomes a free agent with a big question mark attached. I see no reason why the results of a release (i.e., resigning under new terms) cannot negotiated in advance. Possibly somebody knows the MLB rules better and can tell us why this can’t be done, but I don’t know what it might be.

          • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

            You miss my point. The Dodgers’ other option is to release him, in which case he becomes a free agent with a big question mark attached. I see no reason why the results of a release (i.e., resigning under new terms) cannot negotiated in advance. Possibly somebody knows the MLB rules better and can tell us why this can’t be done, but I don’t know what it might be.

          • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

            They can sign him to a cheaper deal, rather than letting him go to arbitration. Similar to what the Diamondbacks are trying to do with Zach Duke.

      • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

        I’m not entirely sure if it’s possible under the MLB rules, but he’s under team control, so I presume the player and the team can agree to whatever contractural arrangement they both believe to be fair. I realize that the player can force the team to either tender or release, but if his ability to play is in question, then I don’t see Martin forcing that decision, and instead giving the Dodgers a reason to deal with him. After all, he won’t get any better on the free agent market.

  10. j96 5 years ago

    He would work good splitting time with Molina just hopefully it’s at a lower price

  11. I see the Dodgers keeping him. They may not like the idea of paying him $6 million or so but he’s still relatively young and it’s still not out of the question that he could return to form, I’d say that’s worth the gamble. If he’s right he’s too valuable of a resource to just let go.

  12. DK_hits_20 5 years ago

    They’ll keep him. He’s a fan favorite. Plus, the catcher market is pretty slim and will be even slimmer after the Red Sox sign Barajas, which I’m 99% sure they will.

  13. This seems like one of the tougher choices the Dodgers will have this off season, but agree with those above that given his age, the paucity of good catchers out there, and the lack of other good options, the team is still better off bringing him back into the fold, even at the increased cost. Assuming they are satisfied with his health reports, and assuming they acknowledge that he cannot start 6 out of 7 games every week (and with Joe Torre gone maybe that is more likely), I think best move for LA is to tender him. A Martin/AJ Ellis combo wouldn’t be that bad and Martin if healthy could be due to bounce back at least enough to make it worthwhile.

  14. This seems like one of the tougher choices the Dodgers will have this off season, but agree with those above that given his age, the paucity of good catchers out there, and the lack of other good options, the team is still better off bringing him back into the fold, even at the increased cost. Assuming they are satisfied with his health reports, and assuming they acknowledge that he cannot start 6 out of 7 games every week (and with Joe Torre gone maybe that is more likely), I think best move for LA is to tender him. A Martin/AJ Ellis combo wouldn’t be that bad and Martin if healthy could be due to bounce back at least enough to make it worthwhile.

  15. $1961279 5 years ago

    many here who are very pro Martin have not watched him break down to a greater degree each successive season under Torre. The guy is a catcher who once had the ability to steal 20-30 bases/season and now he looks like he needs a walker out there. Could be his hip was bad long before the official injury. He is a gamer for sure but often does not get it that catchers simply cannot keep playing so many innings year in and year out and not have a very short career as well as having nothing in the tank when it matters at the end of the season.He just is not as good as some here think. But again, there are not a lot of good catchers these days anyway. Too bad they did not “Biggio” him when we were suffering with Kent bleeding the bank dry…Martin would have been a solid guy playing 2nd and who knows, with healthy legs under him he could have kept hitting HR’s…or was that just HGH? ANymore you have to always wonder than part as well.

    • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

      And he’s not as bad as some think. Nobody expects a catcher to steal five bases a season, let alone 30. Playing him out of position makes no sense. He was forced to play some games at third and he looked like a fish out of water. This kind of thing is rarely attempted and hardly ever works. Besides, one of his strengths is calling games. If healthy he’s certainly worth the $5-6m any team will have to pay for his services. His value didn’t plummet just because he’s not stealing as many bases. If it has dropped, it’s because of the injury.

      • thegrayrace 5 years ago

        I’m sure his declining offensive production for 4 straight seasons has something to do with it. His AVG, SLG and OPS have declined every year since 2007. Stolen bases probably don’t, though.

        Even before the injury, there is no doubt his value was drastically lower than it was in 2007-2008.

        • BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

          Yes, but if Martin had developed as everybody had hoped, and without the strange injury, we’d be talking $10-12m today, not $5-6m.

  16. Garafraxaguy 5 years ago

    Pissing off Jeter

  17. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    Swisher for Bettemit and garbage. Wood for McAllister. Arod and $60 mil for Soriano.

  18. PookieGonzales 5 years ago

    I was so mad when that move went down because I was sure the red sox had gotten him just a little while ago. I guess it worked out pretty good for us though. One of those good non trades( or lucky i should say)

  19. PookieGonzales 5 years ago

    I was so mad when that move went down because I was sure the red sox had gotten him just a little while ago. I guess it worked out pretty good for us though. One of those good non trades( or lucky i should say)

  20. BlueSkyLA 5 years ago

    You aren’t telling me anything I don’t already know. Martin was tried at third years ago for quite a few games, and it was as awful as anyone might have expected. The exception proves the rule. Funny you should mention Yeager though. I liked him defensively, but he was also one of the lightest-hitting Dodger catchers in living memory. It sure would be interesting to hear Dodger fans gripe about Yeager if he was playing today, and you know they would.

  21. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    Yay! A little perspective here, finally, regarding Kemp.

    He didn’t have the season everyone expected in 2010. It could be just blip, just an off year for him. Or maybe this is as good as he’s going to get. Which, by the way, is still a good player.

    Personally, I think he’s a bounce back candidate for 2011.

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