The Blue Jays have had internal discussions about signing free agent catcher Russell Martin, Sportsnet.ca’s Jeff Blair reports. Needless to say, the Jays would have to outbid several teams in order to secure Martin, who is easily the top catcher on the open market. The Jays haven’t made any significant payroll expenditures in almost two years, though they’re trying to create some payroll flexibility in order to make some moves this winter, as evidenced by their trade of Adam Lind.
With Martin a sure bet to receive a qualifying offer from the Pirates, the Jays would also have to give up their first-round draft pick (18th overall) as compensation for the signing. While surrendering a first-rounder would represent a shift in Toronto’s front office philosophy, the Blue Jays could get another draft pick back (between the first and second rounds) should Melky Cabrera sign elsewhere this offseason.
Toronto already has Dioner Navarro under contract for one more season, though if Martin signed, Blair notes that Navarro would be shifted into a DH role. One would think Navarro wouldn’t be the primary DH and would split time between that spot and a backup catcher role, though that also raises the possibility that the Jays would part ways with current backup Josh Thole (whose option was picked up for 2015). Since Thole’s primary role with the Jays has been to catch for R.A. Dickey, his future with the team could depend on how well Martin or Navarro could handle the knuckleball.
With Navarro already slated to start, the Jays were an off-the-board contender for Martin and thus not cited by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his Top 50 Free Agent Predictions. Dierkes predicted Martin would sign the Cubs, with the Pirates and Dodgers also standing out as likely bidders.