Earlier today, we learned that free agent catcher Russell Martin will meet with four teams – the Cubs, Pirates, Dodgers, and Blue Jays. In fact, he’s already met with Chicago. Other clubs may become involved in the bidding, but this is the initial group upon which to focus. Martin’s price is expected to soar due to a dearth of catcher talent on the market.
Initially, it appeared that the Pirates might pull out all the stops to re-sign Martin. The club is thin at catcher with Tony Sanchez and Chris Stewart occupying the top of the depth chart. While the need for Martin is obvious, the ever-increasing rumored cost might push them out of the market.
The Cubs and Dodgers are a better financial fit, since we know both teams can afford Martin at any reasonable cost. They have a decent internal options – Wellington Castillo for the Cubs and A.J. Ellis for the Dodgers – so they’re not desperate for a backstop in the same way as the Pirates. The Cubs recently dismissed a well-regarded manager to hire Joe Maddon, so a similar move at catcher is easy to picture. The Dodgers are supposed to be more financially responsible with Andrew Friedman at the reins. We’ll see if and how that affects their pursuit of Martin.
From the outside, the Blue Jays look like a dark horse candidate, although catcher has been an area of concern since they traded away prospect Travis d’Arnaud. Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole are currently under contract to man the position, but neither player is close to Martin’s talent level.
Of course, the infamous mystery team could rear its head. A few clubs who could conceivably join the fray include the Angels, Tigers, Rangers, Mariners, White Sox, and Nationals.
where is the poll?
Good question? Maybe it’ll come later!!
Hard to say, I’ll go with the Cubs even though I don’t think they are ready to contend just yet. Based on all the rumors going around it certainly feels like they feel they are ready to contend.
I doubt the M’s will go after him, unless they drop all faith in Mike Z, who just needs to work on getting a decent batting average.
Ms would have some trade bait with Zunino.
I voted for Chicago, but I think that the Blue Jays will have a good chance. He played for team Canada in the WBC and they have been very aggressive in free agency recently.
Actually he didn’t. He refused to unless he could play as a short stop..
My vote goes to the Dodgers. There’s money going off the books from Beckett and most likely Hanley. Catcher is a very weak position for them. I just don’t see the Cubs overpaying for a catcher on a team that is not ready to compete.
Plus Billingsley off the books too. That’s another 10 million. Plus the Dodgers got another 18 million coming off after next season when League and Wilson are finally dumped to the curb plus the possibility that Greinke opts out. I’m sure Friedman will dump Crawford and/or Ethier also. Dodgers should have some payroll flexibility soon.
My vote goes to the Dodgers too. I understand they will lose a pick because of the signing, but they gain one in losing Hanley to FA. I very much agree that this is the Dodgers’ weakest part of the team (aside from figuring out the mess of the bullpen). Ellis pretty much is a great backup catcher who knows how to handle the staff and can easily be used as the personal catcher for Kershaw. Martin, by most metrics, is a better defender, pitch framer, throwing out runners and so on. Martin has a familiarity with the Dodgers organization, though the front office is completely different if he returns. And most importantly, Martin is a sure bet to give us average-above average offense from catcher, whereas Ellis will give us barely average at best.
Have to agree if reluctantly that the Dodgers will feel compelled to go after Martin, even though I am not in the camp that feels Ellis is done after one weak offensive season. But I can’t agree that Martin guarantees above average offense. Several of his seasons, and at a much younger age, delivered only mediocre results. I can see him being given too many years though he is at best only a temporary solution to a longterm problem.
Martin = <5% (Dodgers), 95% (Cubbies). Amazing, they just might beat the 100+ y/o "Curse of the Goat" in a year or so?
Cubs or Left Coast Yankees
I can’t see the Jays getting in on this at all. Navarro was fine as the starter this year and they drafted Pentecost as a quick moving high floor catcher. They have other more pressing needs to worry about.
If the Dodgers want him I would think he goes there. His wife liked Hollywood I think, but he may still have hurt feelings from when the Dodgers non-tendered him. I think he is probably over-rated coming off a career year offensively, but he is still an upgrade over current Dodgers.
However new Dodger brass are looking at cutting costs for players so they may not be as amenable to a big contract for an aging player – they are supposedly going to focus on interior player development, younger players and smaller payroll. I think the new Dodger brass will be looking at smaller trade targets to bolster catching rather than Martin. Personally, I would go with Martin, but it is not my money and I think the short term free spending era of the Dodgers is over – Friedman was brought in as a guy who can operate on a tight budget
Vandals Took The Handles
Once the new owners took over, the Dodgers game plan was not to continue to spend like the Yankees and Red Sox on free agents each year, but rather to shell out whatever they had to in order get the team up to speed and win the fans back that had been alienated by the McCourt’s. The plan was always to go back to traditional Dodger baseball where their farm system is the focus. However, they do have a monstrous cable contract, so I’d suspect they will sign a free agent here and there, as well as pay whatever they have to in order to keep their developed stars (as they did with Kershaw). Maybe Russell fits in.
Russell Martin isn’t exactly full-on “aging”. He still will be 32 at the start of next season (younger than AJ Ellis at 34). And quite frankly I will be ok with the Dodgers taking on Martin for 2-3 years at around $13-16 AAV. The don’t exactly have any true depth in the system at catcher aside from a modest prospect in Kyle Farmer who is rated at 18th in the Dodgers’ system alone. Quite frankly, the Dodgers need help at catcher, and given that we have Hanley, Beckett and Billingsley as the major contracts coming off the books this offseason, the potential for more to come off (even if most of their contracts are eaten) in Crawford/Ethier, and League and Wilson’s stupid contracts departing next off-season, we will have enough money to absorb Martin into our payroll.
I mean, if you can honestly point out a better target in the trade market we can net without giving up much in terms of our farm (which is what the Dodgers want to avoid), then by all means let us hear it.
The real reason they won’t do it is because a certain pitcher who the dodgers just signed for $215 million will not want to pitch to any catcher but AJ Ellis.
Being a Pirate Fan and not overly thrilled about his possible signing elsewhere, I see him signing with the Cubs. I think the Cubs are going to make a run at the Division this year.
The Cubs may sign Martin, but they are not going to make a legitimate run at the division. That would require rookie position players to play at a very high level. As you saw from Polanco and Tavares this past season, that does not happen for everybody. The Cubs may get a couple players to play well for them in 2015, but not enough.
Vandals Took The Handles
You may well be right. I too feel that MLB is over-publicizing prospects. My two examples are Harper and Machado – good ballplayers, but not yet consistent impact players (although Trout surely broke the rule).
What the Cubs have going for them is that they may be playing in the worst MLB division in 2015. Time will tell on that.
Machado put up a 6.3 fWAR in 2013 and a 2.5 in 82 games in 2014, while Harper has a career wRC+ of 125. And they’re both 22 years old, not exactly the best examples of prospects not turning into impact players. They need to stay healthy, but there’s no denying that when they’re on the field, they are impact players.
Martin is in the drivers seat, you would think he wants to go to a competitor.
Feel the Cubs will sign him, even though I don’t think he’s significantly better than Castillo. Fangraphs has Martin ahead of Castillo by not much on D, and I don’t see Martin as a 5 WAR guy from here on out. Castillo could easily rebound and have another 3 WAR-yr, and not cost 15+MM/yr.
I like the dodgers to sign him. His advanced metrics are off the charts. I have to think the dodgers are going to focus pitching/defense and that’s what this move does. Hanley is gone.
I think the dodgers need to re-sign hanley. I don’t understand why so many dodger fans don’t want him back. He is a top 3 offensive shortstop and (excluding tulowitzki) is by far the best available SS this offseason. Move him to third and he’s a little better (read: not as terrible) on defense and still is a top 3 offensive 3B and b far the best available 3B. The Dodgers play much better as a team with Hanley in the lineup than without him. You may saw that we shouldn’t sign him because of money, but when has the new ownership group indicated that it has a limit on the payroll? A few contracts are coming off the books after this next season too. total payroll commitments for 2016 are about $170 million. Right now I’d have to say re-signing hanley is the best option.
don’t understand why so many dodger fans don’t want him back.” Because we saw him play for several years. The defense is very bad. And the injuries are piling up. I love the bat, I love him, but Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park and will always be. This is a pitching/defense/OBP team and it can continue to be without Hanley Ramirez.
The Dodgers are infamous for trading away talent, keeping mediocre but popular movie star types. Grinders like Martin migrate away, he’s a defensive gem; let’s see if Andrew’s SABERMETRIC gauge is turned on? Watch the Dodgers sign Ellis to a 2-year, $5M & he’ll get an ACL injury in the spring, it’s been the “Dodger Way” for a hundred years.
Examples? Martin had two terrible seasons and was let go. Movie-star types? The only real talent that was traded away was Pedro Martinez and Paul Konerko to my recollection. The problem was that the talent being generated in the system was not good enough. Things are getting better.