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Pirates and Russell Martin agree to two-year, $17 million contract

Nov 29, 2012, 9:05 PM EDT

Russell Martin Getty Getty Images

UPDATE: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Yankees never made Martin an offer. In fact, they haven’t made an offer to any position players so far this offseason.

8:44 PM: David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that Martin agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates. You could understand if the Yankees balked at a three-year deal at $8.5 million AAV, but it’s surprising that they weren’t willing to match the Pirates for two years.

8:29 PM: Ken Rosenthal of reports that the Pirates have reached an agreement with catcher Russell Martin, pending a physical. No word yet on the exact terms, but there was a report earlier this week that they could be willing to give him a three-year deal.

The Yankees were said to be reluctant to go beyond two years for Martin, who batted .211/.311/.403 with 21 homers, 53 RBI and a .713 OPS this past season. The Mariners and Rangers were also mentioned as potential suitors, but it appears the Pirates had the best offer on the table.

Pirates’ catchers combined to hit .218/.300/.392 with 23 home runs and a .692 OPS this past season, most of that from Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry. With his pop and patience, Martin should be able to equal or exceed that level of production. He also figures to be a nice upgrade from a group who threw out a major-league worst eight percent of attempted basestealers in 2012. Martin checked in at 24 percent, which was just around the league average. He also has the reputation as a solid receiver.

If the season started today, the Yankees would have to rely on a combination of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart behind the plate. Of course, it’s very unlikely they’ll end up going that route. The Yankees haven’t been involved for Mike Napoli, but A.J. Pierzynski has been mentioned as a possible fallback to Martin.

  1. uyf1950 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Well this Yankee fan won’t shed any tears that Russell Martin won’t be with the Yankees in 2013.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      So what do you think the Yankees will do?

      • uyf1950 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        I think if anything the Yankees will work on a trade rather then go with either Napoli or A.J. There is also the option to sign one of the other catchers that had a down year like: Yorvit Torrealba for a year and see if he cat capture his 2010 and/or 2011 performance. They also I’m sure give Romine a good look in spring training to see how his back is and maybe work him into the line up.

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:55 PM

        A. J. and Napoli would probably want more than Martin; besides, the last Yankee named A J didn’t earn his contract.

      • uyf1950 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:49 PM

        correction: “can” capture…..

    • spudchukar - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Hate to say “I told you so”, UYF, my friend, but…

  2. jaredo10 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Hip Hip

  3. barrywhererufrom - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Calling Mr. Napoli..

  4. steelcity333 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Why to go pirates! Waste some of the little bit of money you’re willing to use on yet another over the hill catcher.

    • protius - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      How do you mean “over the hill?”

      • deathmonkey41 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        I think it was an animated show by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels- wasn’t very funny. Oh wait, that was King of the Hill, nevermind, I’m not really sure what he’s talking about.

  5. Stiller43 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Well, .211 to hit right before/after barmes is that exciting to add…but at least theyre showing a willingness to go out and spend some money. Go bucs!

  6. joewilliesshnoz - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    A move like this could jump-start a not so bad Pirates team.

    • henryd3rd - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:31 AM

      Yeah, his .211 batting average and his many strike outs with a runners on base and less then two outs should really make this move pay off for the Pirates.

      Having said that I will miss Yankee radio announcer John Sterling’s calls when Russell hits a home run: It is long is is far it is gone! Russell shows mussel! Monsieur Martin you’re some kinda of grand.

      Good Luck!

  7. sincitybonobo - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    That slash line could be replicated for one hell of a lot cheaper.

    The Pirates have a lot less margin for error than most clubs when it comes to payroll mistakes like this.

    If I’m a GM, especially one with limited resources, I’m spending a very small percentage of them behind the dish. I’d rather take the offensive hit with a backstop that can primarily handle the staff and spend the extra dollars fortifying other offensive positions.

    Martin’s agent is to be commended.

  8. genericcommenter - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    With it well-known the Yankees want to cut payroll in 2014, I am not surprised they would not match a 2-year deal. I don’t think they are looking to add any expensive multi-year deals unless it’s a premium player at a premium position of need.

  9. tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Good to see that Martin is appreciated!

    Branch Rickey – himself a former catcher – taught baseball people that the priorities for a catcher were:

    1a and 1b. Call a game and handle the individual pitchers (not mentioned in this article)

    2. Play defense – block balls and throw out runners

    3. Hit (any hitting was gravy)

    Yanks will go after AJ.

  10. yanks33 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    If anything i hope they take a run at Pierzynski, he’s still a pretty good defensive catcher and he can still hit, i never like Martin so good riddance to him

  11. giantboy99 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Too bad the Yanks didn’t hold onto Montero

  12. whatthehellisansky - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Pierzynski is a clubhouse cancer – think i saw he was voted biggest asshole in the league or something like that. Dont want that guy in the clubhouse.

    Not happy we lost martin but for 8.5 mil a yr we can live without him.

    I say let Romine have a shot. Also I heard Soto may be cut from the cubbies – maybe we can scoop him up? We got martin after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers, maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle again..

    • frank433 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:43 PM

      AJ is the kind of guy you hate, unless he’s on your team.

      • ugglasforearms - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:14 AM

        “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” – Ozzie Guillen

    • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      Clubhouse cancer?

      Not with the team he’s playing for.

      AJ has a veteran leader for the Sox since he got there.

      Man, sit down with People Magazine and then play computer baseball.

    • pdowdy83 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:50 PM

      Soto is a Ranger.

      • crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        not any more.

      • crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM

        well, rhetorically Iguess he is…….

  13. bostonboy82 - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM


  14. uscthom78 - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Desperation time. Sounds like they will try to persuade another player to come out of retirement.

  15. crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM


    • anxovies - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      Yogi looks pretty fit for his age.

  16. richwizl - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    Nice signing for Pirates.

  17. pisano - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    No big loss, he can take his .211 BA with him. He was good with the pitching staff, but he left a lot of runners on base and struck out a lot. I don’t think he’ll be that hard to replace, especially for that kind of money. C-ya Russell.

  18. lazlosother - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Good signing for the Pirates. Going by fWAR, Martin was a bargain for NY. He’d have to perform considerably worse for the contract not to be worth it for the Pirates. Very good D, and average offense for the position at the worst. I’d love to know if this caught NY by surprise.

    At only two years and 8.5 Mil annual value, I wonder if he didn’t sign a little early.

    • paperlions - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:22 AM

      When was the last time Martin’s offense was above average for catchers? (answer 2008), over the last 2 years he’s been a below average offensive catcher (in terms of OBP, SLG, wOBA, and wRC+), and he’s had a negative UZR and below average DRS. Martin hasn’t been a good player since 2008…not sure why anyone would think that would change as he passes 30.

      Among the catchers that were more productive than Martin last year….McKenry, of the Pirates.

      • spudchukar - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        Thanks for doing the homework PL, but as Yankee and Dodger fans know a team without Martin is a team heading in the right direction.

      • paperlions - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        I really don’t understand the Pirates thought process here. They don’t have much money to spend…making this a really weird contract…kind of like signing Barmes last year.

  19. dcfan4life - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    The Yankees being so quiet. Cashman and the new Steinbrenners appear very serious about reducing payroll. I wouldn’t not be surprised if they dont sign anyone that would cost them a great deal.

  20. seahawks80 - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    LOL, the Pirates? RIP Russell.

  21. jayscarpa - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Yankees have a lot of good, young, not ready catching prospects. They’re just going to fill in the gap this year.

    Russell gets to catch AJ B again.

    • anxovies - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      That’s probably why he signed with the Pirates.

  22. ejannetta - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Yanks fan here and glad to see Martin go. Just couldn’t take watching him strikeout with runners on base….Horrible offensively and not worth $8.5 mil a year….not even close to those numbers.

  23. jerze2387 - Nov 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Looks like the pirates have their new Shortstop…

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