Russell Martin Rumors

Quick Hits: Martin, Yankees, Tigers, Dodgers

Pirates catcher Russell Martin thought he would be returning to the Yankees this offseason, Chad Jennings of the Journal News reports. "I thought I was going to be in pinstripes. I thought I was going to be penciled in there, but shows how much I know," Martin says. "There’s really no hard feelings or anything like that. I see it as a business move, and that’s it, really." After catching for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, Martin agreed to a two-year deal with Pittsburgh in late November. Here are more notes from around the majors.

  • Martin also says the Yankees' current catchers, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, are well-equipped to replace him, particularly on defense. "Both those guys can catch," Martin says. "I learned some stuff from Stewart last year just on how quick he is, first of all. Just throwing the ball to second base, and how quick his hands are. His game calling is really good. His receiving’s really good. So defensively, both those guys have got a lot of upside."
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has to figure out what to do with the team's two players from the Rule 5 Draft, pitcher Kyle Lobstein and second baseman Jeff Kobernus, MLB.com's Jason Beck writes. It might be possible for Dombrowski to work out a trade with the Rays to keep Lobstein and send him to the minor leagues, Beck suggests, but swinging a deal with the Nationals to keep Kobernus will be more difficult.
  • The Dodgers have signed four international players, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Three of those players, shortstop Dennis Santana, shortstop Carlos Aquino and left-handed pitcher Cesar Romero, are from the Dominican Republic. The fourth, Dashenko Ricardo, is from Curacao and played catcher for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. Ricardo had previously played in the Orioles and Giants organizations. The Giants released him in January.

East Notes: Rays, Russell Martin, Mets

On this day in 1937, the city of Cincinnati was devastated by a torrential downpour that left Crosley Field, home of the Reds, completely flooded. Two Reds pitchers took a boat out onto the field and navigated the vessel out toward centerfield as the water reached as deep as 21 feet by home plate. Allegedly, one of the pitchers, Lee Grissom, intended to use the boat to reach the front office to collect his paycheck.

Here's the latest news and headlines out of the AL and NL East…

  • The Rays may still be in the market for a bat and bullpen help even after what has been a busy offseason thus far, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa will look to find someone to give James Loney days off at first base or another outfielder to provide depth. 
  • The Yankees will miss Russell Martin's presence behind the plate this season as Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com lists the reasons why. The veteran signed with the Pirates this offseason after New York failed to make Martin a priority.
  • The moves made this offseason by the Braves and Nationals shouldn't affect the Mets' long-term rebuilding plans by speeding up the process, writes Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com. General Manager Sandy Alderson prefers to let his top prospects to continue to develop rather than trade them for a proven big league entity. 

Heyman & Knobler On Hanrahan, Rangers, Bourn

The latest from Jon Heyman and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com…

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.



Pirates Sign Russell Martin

The Pirates announced that they have signed free agent catcher Russell Martin to a two-year contract.  It is a two-year, $17MM contract, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times (Twitter link).  Martin obtains a $2MM signing bonus, a $6.5MM salary in 2013 and an $8.5MM salary in 2014, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).  Martin, 30, is represented by agent Matt Colleran.

Martin returns to the NL after spending his last two years in New York, hitting .224/.317/.405 with 39 homers during his two years as a Yankee.  Those numbers represent an upgrade over the numbers posted by Pirates catchers last season — Rod Barajas has already had his option declined by the Bucs and Michael McKenry now becomes Martin's backup.

The deal represents the most expensive free agent signing of Neal Huntington's tenure as Pittsbugh's general manager, easily topping Clint Barmes' two-year, $10.5MM deal from last winter.  It's not often that the Pirates make a big move on the free agent market, let alone outbid the Yankees on a notable player.  Heyman tweets that the Yankees' last known offer for Martin was for two years and between $12-$14MM.  Heyman reported yesterday that the Bucs and Bronx Bombers were the final two suitors for Martin, with the Mariners and Rangers also showing interest in Martin earlier this winter.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal first reported the agreement (via Twitter).  Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Greinke, Twins, Martin, Napoli, Royals

Several player agents tell Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that the Mariners' chances of attracting free agent hitters have improved now that Safeco Field's fences are being moved in.  That said, while the shorter fences will help, "players look at all of those factors, but in the end, it still comes down to where they can get the best contract. And it always will," one agent says.

Here are some items from a very busy day in baseball….


Rangers Links: Hamilton, Greinke, Outfielders, Martin

Happy birthday to Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry, who celebrates his 29th birthday today.  Gentry is a threat against left-handed pitching (an .859 OPS against southpaws in 2012) and has emerged as one of baseball's best defensive outfielders, posting a 27.5 UZR/150 over his four-year career.  Here's the latest from Arlington…

  • Not much has changed between the Rangers and Josh Hamilton, GM Jon Daniels told reporters (including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan) during a conference call.  Daniels says that he has stayed in touch with Michael Moye, Hamilton's agent, and they will talk again once Moye and Hamilton have fully tested the free agent market.
  • If Hamilton left, finding a new outfielder is "not necessarily our first priority," Daniels said, noting that he is happy with Texas' internal outfield options.
  • Daniels didn't comment on Zack Greinke, but noted that while he's happy with his rotation, "you're always looking out for starting pitching…always looking to upgrade  Do we have to? Not necessarily. It's something we're looking at."  We've heard that the Rangers, Angels, Dodgers and Nationals seem to be Greinke's most fervent suitors.
  • Two rival executives tell CBS Sports' Scott Miller that they think Hamilton will re-sign with Texas.  “As long as Hamilton is willing to take a shorter contract, and I think he’s going to be forced into that," said one NL executive.  Miller also looks back at the original trade that brought Hamilton to the Rangers from the Reds, discussing the deal with then-Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky.
  • The Rangers made Russell Martin a two-year contract offer, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  Martin agreed to a two-year, $17MM deal with the Pirates earlier today.

Pirates, Yankees Pursuing Russell Martin

9:14pm: The Pirates originally offered Martin a two-year contract according to George A. King III of The New York Post, but they've since increased the offer to three years and upwards of $22MM. Meanwhile, Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Pirates never made an offer as high as $25MM.

3:08pm: Martin sees potential in the Pirates and has a favorable opinion of manager Clint Hurdle, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (all Twitter links). One executive believes the dynamic between the Pirates and Yankees would get interesting if the Pirates offered Martin a three-year, $24MM contract. Other teams remain in the mix on Martin.

8:15am: The Pirates appear to be making a serious attempt to sign free agent catcher Russell Martin, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Though the Rangers and Mariners are also suitors for Martin, he will likely choose between the Yankees and Pirates. The decision could occur before next week’s Winter Meetings, as Martin is expected to choose within several days.

The Pirates might out-bid the Yankees for Martin, Heyman reports. Pittsburgh could offer $25MM over three years, but the Yankees don’t appear to be in that range. It appears that the Yankees are offering a two-year deal, though if they sweeten their offer in terms of years or salary, that could be enough to bring Martin back to New York.

Andrew Marchand reported yesterday that Martin seeks a four-year deal worth $9-10MM per season.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Mike Napoli Rumors: Tuesday

It's a good time to be a free agent catcher with power. Interest in Russell Martin remains strong, and the market for Mike Napoli seems similarly active. Here’s the latest on Napoli on a day that he had been scheduled to meet with the Rangers…

  • The Rangers remain focused on Napoli, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Their interest in Martin will increase only if Texas believes Napoli’s asking price is too high.
  • The Red Sox are in contact with Napoli, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross and all three free agents remain in play for Boston, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Napoli, Swisher and Ross appear to be the top targets for the Red Sox, who seek help at first base and in the outfield. One executive said he views the Red Sox as the favorite to sign Napoli. Like Swisher, Napoli has the versatility to play multiple positions, a bonus for the Red Sox.

New York Notes: Dickey, Wright, Martin, Ichiro

It's been a busy baseball day in New York, as the Mets made David Wright a nine-figure contract offer while the Yankees moved closer to re-signing Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Here's the latest out of the Big Apple…

  • "Negotiations are progressing, that's all I can really say about it," said R.A. Dickey when asked about contract talks with the Mets during an appearance on ESPN's Mike & Mike (audio link). The knuckleballer admitted to being loyal to the club since they gave him a chance when others passed.
  • David Lennon of Newsday says (on Twitter) it appears the Mets want to sign Wright to a new contract before wrapping things up with Dickey.
  • Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York hears Russell Martin is seeking a four-year contract worth $9-10MM annually (Twitter link). He doesn't believe the Yankees will go that far.
  • Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports (on Twitter) the Yankees are not having serious talks with Ichiro Suzuki at this time.

Pirates, Mariners Interested In Russell Martin

Free agent catcher Russell Martin is receiving significant interest from the Pirates and Mariners, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Yankees remain the favorites to sign Martin, but it appears that they'll have to duke it out with the Bucs and M's in addition to the Rangers.

Interest from the Pirates and Mariners makes sense as Pittsburgh has a glaring need at the position while the Mariners are looking for offense at a variety of spots, including catcher.  The Mariners have Jesus Montero and John Jaso, but Montero is likely to see more time at DH next season. 

Rosenthal writes that the Rangers in particular pose a significant threat to the cost-conscious Yankees who are looking to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014.  However, the Bombers might be willing to stretch for Martin if it requires about $2MM more than they would like to spend.