The Cubs are preparing to make a run at top free agent catcher Russell Martin, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. That does not come as a significant surprise given Chicago’s apparent spending plans and its current roster alignment; indeed, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently predicted that the Cubs would ultimately land Martin.
Of course, the Cubs are not the only club with significant interest in Martin, who had an outstanding 2014 campaign and stands alone on the starting catching market. As Heyman notes, the Dodgers, Pirates, Blue Jays, and even Red Sox have been connected to Martin in rumors or by way of analysis. And the list of plausible landing spots is probably longer than that.
At present, Welington Castillo sits atop the Chicago backstop depth chart, with John Baker in reserve. That unit ranked fourth from the bottom last year in terms of fWAR, with Castillo taking a big step back in terms of his offensive output. After two straight years of above-average production at the plate, to go with BABIP tallies that landed just under the .350 mark, Castillo managed only a .237/.296/.389 line over 417 plate appearances, in 2014. And both Stat Corner and Baseball Prospectus are down on his work behind the dish.
Castillo did register double-digit home runs (13) for the first time last year, and remains a valuable young player. But there is little doubt that Martin would represent a significant upgrade.