At one point Russell Martin was one of the more promising young catchers in the game. Not only did he win a Gold Glove in just his second season in the bigs, but he was also one of the best hitting catchers in the game too, taking home a Silver Slugger that same year.
These days haven’t been as kind to Martin. After he put up back-to-back years of 86 and then 88 OPS+, the Dodgers non-tendered him. He has a slight rennessance last season when he managed a 94 OPS+, but it seems that he’s regressed again and currently sports a 82 OPS+.
The Yankees might be willing to take it.
“I think he’s important to this team with what he can do (defensively),” Girardi told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. “I can live with (.186). I think you can. Obviously his defense is very important, so if it’s what it’s going to be, we might have to live with it.”
It shouldn’t come as a huge shock though. Martin is still considered one of the better defensive catchers in the game and one look at Joe Girardi’s stats – he had a career 72 OPS+ – and it’s no suprise that he’s supportive of somebody similar.
Besides, it’s not as if Martin is one of the worst offensive catchers. The Yankees have gotten a .291 wOBA out of their catchers this year, the bulk of that coming from Martin. That ranks them 18th in baseball. By no means is being 18th offensively good, but it isn’t exactly killing them either. If he’s truly handling the pitching staff well and saving the team runs then it’s something you can live with.