Russell Martin Rumors

Heyman On Yankees, Giants, Belt, Red Sox, Hamilton

The latest from Jon Heyman of

Red Sox Notes: Dempster, Martin, Upton, Free Agents

Though it can be argued that misses in free agency were the cause of Boston's disastrous 2012 season, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald thinks that shrewd free agent signings could help the team quickly return to prominence.  Here's the latest from Fenway Park…

  • The team has "shown only preliminary interest" in Ryan Dempster, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).  Lauber notes that the Sox also didn't make a major push for Dempster at the trade deadline, though that could have been because they already considered the season lost.
  • Red Sox officials were "seen meeting on" free agent catcher Russell Martin at the GM meetings, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.  Signing Martin "might require more moves" for Boston, given the presence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate.
  • Though the Diamondbacks are said to be looking for a third baseman, shortstop or starter in a Justin Upton trade and the Red Sox have several young players at those positions, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe doesn't think the Red Sox would part with any of their young core at this time.
  • Just because the Red Sox are coming off one losing season, I don’t lump them in with the non-contenders,” one player agent tells Scott Lauber.  “Knowing what we know about the Red Sox, the market they play in, they’ll be back in the fray.”  Another agent, however, predicts that veterans pursuing short-term deals on World Series contenders (such as Boston targets like Hiroki Kuroda or Torii Hunter) might avoid the Red Sox since the club doesn't look like it will turn things around by next season.
  • GM Ben Cherington said the team is focusing on other needs besides at shortstop, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  This would seem to indicate that the position is Jose Iglesias' to lose, though Abraham predicts the Sox will sign a veteran backup at short.
  • Assistant GM Mike Hazen discussed Boston's young talent, the idea of trading prospects for established stars and other topics in a radio interview on WEEI's Red Sox Hot Stove Show.'s Alex Speier has the partial transcript.

Olney On Bonderman, Braves, Haren

Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t pitched at the MLB level since 2010, but he’s ready to return to the big leagues,’s Buster Olney reports. Bonderman lost 35 pounds and his arm feels good following reconstructive elbow surgery. He’ll be ready to throw for teams by January and hopes to sign a minor league contract with an invitation to MLB Spring Training. Here are more of Olney’s notes from around MLB…

  • Teams checked in about the availability of Brian McCann before the Braves exercised his $12MM option for 2013, Olney reports. The Braves would have wanted a decent return in a trade, but other teams were looking to acquire the catcher cheaply.
  • Some Atlanta executives are realistic about their chances of signing Michael Bourn. It doesn’t look like the center fielder will re-sign with the Braves.
  • Many executives assume the potential trade that would have sent Dan Haren to the Cubs blew up because of health issues, Olney writes. This means CAA Sports, the agency that represents Haren, will have to convince teams that the free agent right-hander is healthy.
  • The Yankees like Russell Martin a lot, but won’t overpay to keep him, Olney writes.

Rosenthal On B.J. Upton, Bourn, Morse, Ethier

Here's the latest from's Ken Rosenthal as he dissects the buzz and rumors currently circulating around the league…

  • The addition of two former members from the Rays organization has nothing to do with a potential pursuit of center fielder B.J. Upton, says Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
  • While some teams may prefer Upton over Michael Bourn thanks to his age (nearly two years younger) and the ability to hit for power, Rosenthal points out that Bourn's value comes from being a well-rounded player. 
  • Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche's decision regarding his free agency may greatly impact Washington's course of action this offseason, especially with left fielder Michael Morse
  • The notion that the Dodgers may consider moving Andre Ethier just months after signing him to a five-year, $85MM contract simply wouldn't be the best move for Los Angeles heading into 2013, opines Rosenthal.
  • Look for the Yankees to re-sign Russell Martin, but the Bombers have had their eye on free agent David Ross, who has served as Brian McCann's backup with the Braves since 2009.
  • The Cardinals and second baseman Skip Schumaker may be parting ways this offseason as the veteran no longer has a defined role with the club thanks to the emergence of young talent. 

Quick Hits: Martin, Ankiel, Young

Links from around MLB on the day teams must decide whether to make qualifying offers to departing free agents…

  • The Yankees like Russell Martin very much and are hoping to re-sign him as a free agent this offseason, Jon Heyman of reports. The Pirates, Rangers and Mariners could all spend on catching this offseason. While the Mets need catching, they seem likely to pursue trades in Heyman’s view.
  • Agent Scott Boras said there’s no chance of Rick Ankiel returning to the mound, Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports (on Twitter). “He's not pitching," Boras said. It was reported yesterday that Ankiel might be open to pitching again.
  • The White Sox announced that they promoted former MLB manager and player Buddy Bell to the role of vice president/assistant GM. Bell, 61, played from 1972-88, then managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provides a guide to the top 25 values available in free agency this offseason, complete with a look at five players teams might want to avoid. Within the piece, which is well worth your time, Cameron explains that Delmon Young has essentially become a platoon bat, and argues that Maicer Izturis could bounce back in 2013. Be sure to check out MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents if you haven't done so already.

New York Notes: Outfield, Soriano, A-Rod, Wright

The Yankees are considering a defensive change for next season, shifting Curtis Granderson to left field and Brett Gardner to center, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  Granderson's defense has declined in recent years, as he has posted negative UZR/150 ratings in four of the last five years, including a -18.2 UZR/150 in 2012.  Gardner, on the other hand, has a career 30.6 UZR/150, ranking him amongst the best defensive outfielders in the game.

Here's the latest from both the Yankees and Mets…

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't plan to offer Rafael Soriano a deal similar to the one he signed after the 2010 season that established Soriano as Mariano Rivera's set-up man and understudy at closer, reports ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews.  "I don't think Soriano would sign here if he's not going to be the closer," Cashman said. "And I don't think we would do again what we did before. He's going to want closer money and I doubt he would want to come back here as a set-up man."  Soriano is a free agent after opting out of the last year of his deal, and agent Scott Boras said Soriano is looking for a four-year contract to close.  Soriano could still return to the Bronx, of course, if Rivera retires and the Bombers suddenly have a hole at the back of their bullpen.
  • Also from Matthews, he reports that the Yankees will make qualifying offers to Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda.  Swisher will almost surely turn this offer down but Kuroda "might accept it."  The Yankees have interest in bringing back Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez on short-term contracts, while the club also would like to re-sign Andy Pettitte and Russell Martin.
  • The Yankees haven't received any calls from teams interested in Alex Rodriguez, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale.  It could be a moot point, as Nightengale hears that Rodriguez isn't willing to waive his no-trade clause for any team.
  • The Mets are continuing to talk to David Wright about a multiyear extension but talks are "stuck in neutral" and there is "nothing imminent" between the two sides, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post and Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (both links to Twitter).
  • ESPN's Jim Bowden believes Wright and the Mets will agree to a new long-term contract, but if they can't, Bowden suggests five teams who could become trade destinations for Wright.

NL East Notes: Martin, Desmond, Strasburg

The Nationals will host Washington's first playoff game in 79 years today when they welcome Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals to Nationals Park. Here are some links from the NL East…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests the Mets should sign Russell Martin if the Yankees let him leave as a free agent this offseason. The Mets could use catching help and they know Martin can handle New York while offering a combination of defense, power and youth.
  • Multiple teams have tried to buy low on Ian Desmond, but GM Mike Rizzo says he “never one time considered trading him at all," according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (quote via Twitter). Kilgore explains that Desmond’s tremendous year can no longer be overlooked now that he’s producing for the Nationals in the postseason.
  • If the Nationals get eliminated from the playoffs, questions about Stephen Strasburg’s shutdown will be coming from within the team’s clubhouse and from outside critics, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
  • In case you missed it, here’s my offseason outlook for the Mets. A top priority for the club is locking up David Wright, and they’d like to reach a deal for $100MM or so — an unrealistic price in my view.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Russell Martin

Russell Martin has improved his value with a strong offensive second half, but the prospective free agent might have already turned down the largest contract offer he'll see this year. Martin, who homered again last night, is hitting well with weeks to go before his second career appearance on the free agent market.

Russell Martin - Yankees (PW)

The Yankees made Martin a three-year extension offer in the $20MM range this spring, around the time Miguel Montero (five years, $60MM) and Yadier Molina (five years, $75MM) signed multiyear deals. Martin declined, deciding to let the market for catchers establish itself. His numbers have since dropped off compared to his first season in pinstripes. Going into this afternoon's game in Minnesota, the 29-year-old has 19 home runs with a .206/.309/.389 batting line in 458 plate appearances. 

Martin's batting average declined for the fifth consecutive season in 2012, and it’s be unreasonable to count on major improvements from a player whose batting average on balls in play has been below .300 every month of his two-year tenure with the Yankees. Yet he continues to draw walks and hit for some power. Plus, his second half numbers — a .236/.318/.435 slash line with 11 home runs — provide some reason for optimism.

The right-handed hitter has a career line of .272/.386/.448 against left-handed pitching and while he’s not a part-time player at this stage in his career, Martin could be paired with a left-handed hitting backup to great effect. John Jaso or Jason Castro also figure to get regular playing time in 2013, but this kind of player — someone who hits right-handers much better than left-handers — would complement Martin’s offensive skills. 

Still, offensive numbers only reveal so much about a catcher’s value. Martin been durable, catching 120-plus games for the second consecutive season. He has prevented 24% of stolen base attempts so far in 2012, which is approximately league average. According to a pre-season scouting report in The Fielding Bible: Volume III, Martin has re-established himself as an above average defensive catcher. All told, advanced metrics suggest Martin continues adding value (1.3 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference and 2.0 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs), though no longer at the All-Star level he played at in the early part of his career.

In the view of some prominent baseball executives Martin made a mistake when he turned down the Yankees’ extension offer. Three general managers recently suggested to Jon Heyman of that Martin will have to settle for a one-year contract this coming offseason. A deal in the $7.5MM range seems appropriate, though a multiyear agreement remains possible, the GMs said.

The last time Martin hit free agency he signed a one-year, $4MM contract with the Yankees. He had just missed a considerable portion of the 2010 season with a hip injury and been non-tendered by the Dodgers. Coming off of a healthy season, the Matt Colleran client figures to obtain a larger guarantee this time, even if he decides to accept a one-year, 'pillow' contract. He could also get multiyear offers given his youth and second half numbers. However, it seems unlikely Martin will see another $20MM offer following a below average offensive season.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

Heyman On Kyle Lohse, Russell Martin

The latest from Jon Heyman of…

  • Kyle Lohse is seen as very likely to leave the Cardinals when he hits free agency this winter, Heyman reports. One general manager said C.J. Wilson is better than Lohse, implying that a five-year, $77.5MM contract will be out of reach for the Cardinals right-hander. A three-year contract in the $40MM range seems more realistic for Lohse, who turns 34 next month.
  • Three general managers suggested Russell Martin will have to settle for a one-year contract this coming offseason, Heyman reports. The Yankees made Martin a three-year contract offer in the $20MM range this spring, but Martin turned it down. Instead, the general managers told Heyman, Martin will probably end up with a one-year contract, perhaps in the $7.5MM range. A multiyear deal remains possible given the lack of alternatives for teams seeking catching help.

Quick Hits: Lannan, Martin, Nationals, Orioles

Giants closer Brian Wilson will undergo his second Tommy John surgery tomorrow. Over the weekend we heard that his season was over and that another elbow procedure was likely. Make sure you follow @CloserNews on Twitter for all your fantasy bullpen needs. Meanwhile, here's the latest from around the league…

  • Nationals southpaw John Lannan is still not drawing trade interest according to's Bill Ladson. His $5MM salary continues to be a problem, with one executive saying "teams would rather use a low-paid Minor Leaguer for the fifth spot before dealing with Lannan's money."
  • The Yankees have no plans to talk to Russell Martin about a contract extension soon, reports Jon Heyman of (on Twitter). Martin will become a free agent after this season, and the two sides briefly discussed a multi-year deal this past offseason.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that a panel of baseball officials will help resolve a local television revenue dispute between the Nationals and Orioles. The two clubs share ownership of MASN, but the O's hold a substantially larger stake. The current deal was hammered out when the Nats moved to Washington in 2005.