The 28-year-old [Russell Martin] is arbitration-eligible and stands to get a hefty raise to about $7 million, but Cashman wouldn’t rule out signing him to a multi-year deal.
“I think [his success] provides the flexibility to do either,” Cashman said of Martin, who hit .237 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs — and whom the GM credited with the pitching staff having a better season than many expected. “We are deep catching-wise … so we can go a number of different routes there. The depth of this franchise allows us if we want to put all our eggs in the Russell Martin basket, maybe we can have a conversation there, too.”
The Yankees have quite a bit of options when it comes to the catcher position. They’ll have Martin as the starting catcher next year and they have Jesus Montero and Francisco Cervelli in the mix to serve as the backup. They also have Austin Romine starting the year at Triple-A and if he is not major league ready right now, he will be a year from now. Behind all of them, still a few years down the road, they have Gary Sanchez as well.
This leaves them open to do a number of things. I think circumstances will be the biggest dictator of what will happen though. Can they trade Cervelli? What about Romine? Will somebody blow them away for an offer for Montero? Will Martin qualify as a Type-A free agent at the end of the year? And of course, significant injuries could play a role in this.
Martin is unlikely to be extended until his contract is up, as per the Yankees policy. So unless there is a trade this offseason they’ll probably go into next year with Martin starting and Cervelli and Montero as the backup. A trade is likely though, at least to dump Cervelli. That way there isn’t anybody to block Romine’s development.
Romine could be the key to all of this after all. He was once regarded as one of the best prospects in the game, but has since taken some small steps back. If he can put together a big offensive year in 2012, he would certainly make the Yankees think twice about giving Martin a multi-year deal. Or it could just make it easier to trade Romine.
Or Cashman could simply by trying to build up Martin’s trade value and he could be the one who is headed out the door. It’s all hard to gauge right now because the Yankees have so many options.