Russell Martin Rumors
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 CBSSports.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 CBSSports.com 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.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com...
- 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.
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 MLB.com'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 CBSSports.com (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.
Wei-Ying Chen, Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Pena obtained the biggest free agent contracts handed out by AL East teams this offseason, not counting the Yankees’ extended agreement with C.C. Sabathia. Here’s the latest on the division...
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe that he’s operating differently in Baltimore than he did as Boston’s GM. “I have a fresh start in Baltimore,’’ he said. “I believe I could do a better job in one-on-one communication in a couple of different areas of the job.
- Ian Browne of MLB.com checks in with Ben Cherington, who’s now wrapping up his first offseason as Boston’s GM. Though Cherington says he’s far from unflappable, his boss, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, says he’s off to a “flying start.”
- The Orioles haven’t ruled out Johnny Damon, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The Orioles have switch-hitting DH Wilson Betemit in place, but they could shift him to third at times or play Damon in left if their interest in the free agent is serious.
- Yankees catcher Russell Martin told Heyman that he was pleased to see the Cardinals recognize the value of Yadier Molina’s all-around game with a $75MM deal (Twitter link). "He kind of set the bar," Martin said.
The Yankees and Russell Martin have agreed to table extension talks until the season ends, agent Matt Colleran confirmed to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. By that point, Martin will be on the brink of free agency and the market for catchers will likely be better-established.
Yadier Molina and the Cardinals are nearing a five-year contract in the $70-75MM range, and the near-deal “gives you something to point to now,” Colleran said. When the Yankees discussed a possible extension with Martin earlier in the offseason, they reportedly offered a three-year deal in the $20MM range. Though Martin figures to sign for less than $14-15MM per season, he will benefit from Molina’s deal (as will Mike Napoli and Miguel Montero).
Martin would like to sign long-term with the Yankees, who were impressed with his performance in 2011. The Yankees are “obsessed” with lowering their payroll below $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax purposes, Sherman writes. He suggests Martin could sign for $40MM over four years next offseason.
A few odds and ends to pass along from the AL East. For more news out of the division, be sure to check out this afternoon's earlier post.
- The Yankees and catcher Russell Martin have decided to table extension talks until after the season, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Martin, 29, is eligible for free agency after this season, and is apparently seeking more than the three years and $20MM the Yankees were willing to offer, as reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington addressed his club's shortstop situation today, according to the Associated Press: "[W]e feel good about the mix that we have, and we'll certainly keep our eyes open if there are ways to improve that. But right now we're focused on the guys we have." The current starting candidates are Nick Punto, Mike Aviles and, less likely, Jose Iglesias.
- Blue Jays infielder Omar Vizquel passed on an offer to manage a winter league team in his native Venezuela so that he could focus on playing in the Majors for what is presumably a final season, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Davidi adds that Vizquel, signed to a minor league deal this offseason, is the favorite to claim the backup infielder's role with the Jays. Vizquel also says managing is likely in his future.
9:21pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says (on Twitter) that talks haven't gotten off the ground, and the two sides will revisit an extension during the season. The Yankees are willing to do $20MM over three years, but Martin wants a raise.
3:03pm: The Yankees have suggested the possibility of re-working Russell Martin’s one-year contract into a three-year extension, agent Matt Colleran told Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. However, GM Brian Cashman said Martin and Colleran "weren't interested" in the team's initial offer, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). Martin will earn $7.5MM in 2012 on his current contract before hitting free agency.
The Yankees aim to have a payroll under $189MM by the 2014 season for luxury tax purposes, and Martin is willing to “be flexible in their budget constraints," according to Colleran. GM Brian Cashman and Colleran spoke yesterday and will likely discuss a deal again soon. Though the Yankees' initial offer didn't entice Martin to sign, Cashman said he's open to resuming discussions.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals continue extension talks with Yadier Molina, who is also scheduled to hit free agency after the season. If Martin and Molina sign long-term, Mike Napoli and Miguel Montero would be the top available free agent catchers next winter. Arizona GM Kevin Towers said earlier in the offseason that there are few satisfying comparable catchers to Montero and MLBTR's Extension Tracker supports his assertion. The catchers with five or more years of service time who recently signed extensions wouldn't be relevant to Martin, Molina, Montero and Napoli.