A couple of Yankees make their pitch to keep Russell Martin

A year ago, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was comparing Russell Martin to Thurman Munson and broke their unwritten rule by offering him a $20 million, three year contract extension before he hit the free agent market.

Then he spent most of this season hitting less than .200 and finished with a .211/.311/.403 line that was good for a 92 OPS+ and suddenly even a $20 million offer was not guaranteed. However, if it were up to CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe the Yankees should still re-sign the catcher.

“I think it’s important,” Sabathia told Mark Hale of the NY Post. “He’s been a great addition to our team, on and off the field. That’s not in my department, though. But we’ll have to just wait and see what happens. But he’s been great for us.”

“I had him in L.A.,” Lowe added. “He’s actually probably gotten a little bit better as far as catching because of experience, and with [bench coach] Tony Penahere being a catching guy. There’s not many catchers that are going to hit you 20 home runs and drive in I don’t know how many he had, call a great game, throw guys out. From that standpoint, he’s a guy that’s only getting better. Again, I can say that because I’ve played with him back in L.A., and I’ve seen the progression in a positive way.”

That’s the thing about Martin. While he can’t hit much, his wOBA of .316 ranked 15th out of catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, he is a very solid defensive catcher. From pitch framing to blocking balls in the dirt, he is above average.

The question is, is his defense good enough to overlook his putrid offense? And is his power, his ISO of .192 was seventh among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, enough to make up for his poor on base skills? Yadier Molina got $75 million over five years, is Martin worth $20-$30 million over three years? Is he even worth a mutli-year contract?

It would be nice if the Yankees could rely on minor leaguer Austin Romine to take over, but they can’t. For one thing, it’s impossible to see them trusting a rookie catcher to handle their pitching staff, but even worse is that a back injury has caused him to miss a significant amount of time in each of the past two years. This leaves the Yankees with the option of re-signing Martin or testing the free agent and trade markets.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

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3 Responses to A couple of Yankees make their pitch to keep Russell Martin

  1. Olie says:

    They gotta resign him!

  2. lazlosother says:

    What are the alternatives? And no, Martin is not worth a large $ mulit-year contract. However, there is no indication that Martin will be looking for such q contract. Martin is good for a 1-2 year deal. His hitting will insure that he doesn't get more. Martin is good for now. Remember, NY lost because the folks who usually hit didn't, not because Martin caught.

  3. Fred V says:

    And what are the chances that he will start the next year hitting as poorly as he began last year? That would almost be impossible. I don't expect a .300 hitter, but I would not be surprised by a .250 – .265 year. He's hard-nosed and a positive clubhouse presence… How about we skip Romine and bring up the youngster(s) behind him for some OJT? I understand they are pretty good hitters; age is only a number (!?!)

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