News and Rumors

Report: Pirates Offering $25 M for Russell Martin

Report: Pirates Offering $25 M for Russell Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has an update on the Russell Martin bidding, noting that the Pirates and Yankees seem to be the leaders in the race. He notes that the Pirates actually may have the high bid at the moment.

Word going around is that the Pirates might come in with the high bid, perhaps for three years and close to $25 million. The Yankees are not believed to be offering anything close to that, but the bidding isn’t over and it has been thought likely that Martin would prefer to stay in New York, where he has been the starting catcher the past two seasons.

The Yankees are thought likely to be offering only a two-year deal to date, but if they get close to Pittsburgh’s reputed offer, either by bumping up the salary, adding an option year or perhaps even a third year, they still might have the inside track. Martin is well-liked in Yankees circles, and there aren’t a lot of great outside options.

From everything I’ve seen, the Yankees really like Martin. I’d be surprised if they get out-bid by a three-year, $25 M deal. If they top the Pirates, they might be doing Pittsburgh a favor. Pat Lackey at WHYGAVS had a look at how adding Martin would be setting money on fire. He notes that Martin isn’t a very good catcher, and will probably see his skills go down in Pittsburgh with PNC’s layout hurting the right-handed hitter, and the Pirates’ philosophy for holding runners hurting his caught stealing numbers. Martin looks like he would be better than Barajas, but he doesn’t look like he’d be worth $8 M a year. In my opinion, the Pirates would be better off investing that money on a position that could add some value, rather than giving that to Martin only because he’s the best player in a weak catching market.

UPDATE 6:15 PM: A few notes from Ken Rosenthal on Twitter:

UPDATE 7:43 PM: Rob Biertempfel has an update, saying the Pirates haven’t offered as high as $25 M.


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  • leadoff

    Last year was a weak catching market, this year is a weak catching market, no way in the world that Martin is worth 8mil a year, especially with Sanchez only a 1/2 to 1 year away, the price of doing business is getting crazy.
    I hope the Pirates spend their first 4 picks in this years draft on catchers, there is no position in sports that is harder to fill these days. Get yourself a bunch of top catching candidates and your minor league system suddenly has assets that can be traded directly from the minors for something useful.

  • Steve Dimmick

    maybe Burnett could help get Martin here? If so, i hope not at 8m/yr, i’d rather have Sanchez/McHenry at that price. If they do anything this year, i hope they get rid of Barmes/Barajas and get on with prospects if nothing else. I dont know if i’ll be able to watch that pathetic hitting again in 2013! I love Barmes fielding and his leadership, but come on, dont put me through it again!

  • kimbercarry

    If this is true it’s insane. There is no way he is worth that kind of coin. This type of signing could set the franchise back big time.

    • Kevin Creagh

      I’m not enthralled with the possibility of 3 year/$25M for Martin either, but keep in mind that in 2014 each team will be getting $23M more per year from national TV revenue.

      It’s entirely possible, as we have already seen with a couple of FA deals this year, that the Pirates backload a FA contract. Take this example for a potential Martin contract:
      2013 – $5M
      2014 – $9M
      2015 – $11M

      Is Martin worth his demands? Back in 2007/2008 he would have been, but not now. Sadly, the FA catching market is a trainwreck and there aren’t many “available-tradeable” candidates either.

      He’s the thinnest girl at fat camp.

    • rodneyave

      Another person buying into the status quo of the way the pirates have been operating their ballclub for the last 20 years. Everyother team in mlb pays the money necessary to obtain the players they feel will help contribute to a championship. If that is not the goal of the pirates they need to sell to an individual whose goals will best represent that. Stop drinking the coolaid friend. This once proud franchise has the ability as well the resources to do the same things other mlb teams seem to be able to do. All this losing has caused some serious stinkin thinkin. Just my two cents worth.

      • kimbercarry

        I have no problem if the Pirates were to spend that kind of money if it’s the right move. It has nothing to do with Kool- Aid my friend. My problem is spending it on a guy like Martin. Have you watched him play the last few years? I have on plenty of occassions and I don’t feel he’s worth that kind of money. I don’t see him as plus defender and I feel the little bit he has produced has been a product of playing at Yankees Stadium and the fact that he’s been hitting in a lineup loaded with sluggers that given the choice, pitchers would rather pitch around and go after Martin. In 133 games last year he hit .211, 21 HR, 53 RBI and .311 OBP. McKenry in 88 games hit .233 with 12 HR, 39 RBI and .320 OBP. Avg. those numbers out over another 45 games and your not that far off from Martins production for a lot less money and McKenry isn’t hitting in Yankee Stadium and he doesn’t have the studs batting in the same lineup with him that Martin does. I’m sure someone will come back and say “yea but McKenry had a carreer year”. Maybe he did but maybe he didn’t. Maybe he’s got that kind of production in him next year and the year after. The sample size is to small to know. I’m willing to give the kid another year to see what he can do and it will cost a heck of a lot less.

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    Still holding out for a trade with the Blue Jays for the d’Arnaud who can hit. Any chance Hanrahan gets traded for d’Arnaud and another player?

    • Justin

      we have to ask ourselves a few questions here.

      which teams would be interested in trading for one year of a closer?

      the answer to that is “Contending Teams.”

      How many contending teams need closers?

      not sure what the answer is.

      Are there closers on the FA market?

      there are a few.

      My point is that a Hanrahan trade is still possible, but i think they failed by not trading him when he had more than one year of control left.

      and i’d expect a less elite prospect than d’Arnaud.

  • Thom Kay

    3yr/25M is perfectly reasonable for a catcher of Martin’s abilities. The bigger question is whether the Pirates can afford to pay free agents what they are worth. And, of course, if we can trust McKenry and Sanchez to be decent.

    Martin is a 2-3 WAR guy, but may be better if you like pitch framing numbers. Baseball Prospectus suggests that Martin is one of the best in the league. Over 120 games, they say he’s worth 20 runs saved over Barajas (+15 vs. -5). Not sure they’re right, but, if so, that’s enormous.

    Money aside, I’d love to have Martin. It’d be nice to have a guy who can hit for power against lefties. It’d be nice if the 7 hitter wasn’t an automatic out like the 8 and 9 hitters. And it’d be nice if all of our catchers were capable of throwing out the occasional base runner.

    • rodneyave

      What he said…..Seriously, I agree 100%.

    • jalcorn

      Dead on Thom. Tim comparing him to Barajas is laughable. Martin has been steady at 2-3 WAR and actually gets on base while playing at least league average defense. Not saying I think we have to get him, but he is a clear upgrade and $8 million a year is fair for his 30-32 year old seasons.

      • Tim Williams

        This is what I said:

        “Martin looks like he would be better than Barajas, but he doesn’t look like he’d be worth $8 M a year.”

        • jalcorn

          Well I’ll edit my comment to “huge understatement”. The cost of a win this past season was nearly $6 million, most say it will increase to $8-9 million with the new money next year. Paying Martin $25 million for three years is only 4 wins by today’s dollars and likely 3 wins by tomorrow’s. Martin has posted 7.4 wins the last 3 years. He’ll almost certainly be worth $8 million a year.

    • Tim Williams

      I saw the pitch framing article earlier today. As for throwing out a runner, that’s on the pitchers and the philosophy the Pirates have, rather than the catchers. No matter how good a catcher is, he’s going to struggle if the Pirates refuse to focus on holding runners on base.

  • Fred Langford

    I know batting average is minor compared to everything else a player does but these are Martin’s averages the last 6 years: .293, .280, .250, .248, .237, .208…his obp has declined 4 straight years. About to be on the wrong side of 30. His last 836 AB in LA in a real ballpark compareable to PNC he hit 12 HR and slugged .330. He has never thrown out 30% of baserunners in any mlb season. He had 9 passed balls last year. I would take him for 2 years 12 mil because he is an slightly above average catcher that is not too old yet. But more than 2 years at 8 mil plus is too much. Has not hit above .250 since 2008. His walks wont be enough when he comes to PNC and hits .230 and 12 HR and plays slightly above average defense. We can get that from McKenry and a free agent.

    • rodneyave

      His power numbers were up as he hit 18 and 21 hrs the last two years. His obp was still over 300 even with the low average the last two years. You are incorrect on the percentage of thrown out runners. He’s been over 30% five of the seven years he’s caught with a 39% high and a 24% low. You may be referring to the league average for caught stealing percentages. I do agree if he can be had for 2 @ 12mill you do it, but you do what you have to to get this player within reason obviously.

      • Fred Langford

        Yes, you were right I was looking at the league averages. Thx for the correcton. That makes me feel a little better that at least we’ll have a guy that can control the running game. PNC will erase him as a guy that can come close to 20HR I think. He hit 39 HR in 2 years in NYS and 54 in 5 years in LA.

  • michaelbro8

    God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No ! God No !

    didn’t they learn anything from the Barajas ordeal ?

    • rodneyave

      Barajas and Martin are very different friend. Who do you suggest they sign?

      • michaelbro8

        Not really, Martin is just a year or two behind being Barajas; if you track his numbers season by season that’s glaringly apparent. As to your question: it suggests that they sign someone just to sign someone. If there is no good option out there (and there isn’t), you DON’T sign anyone.

  • Lee Young

    Why do journalist always cite ‘sources’?

    My sources tell me that is lazy journalism.

    The Trib does that wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much, imho.

    • Tim Williams

      It’s pretty standard. You get information from people who want to remain anonymous. You’re not going to burn them by mentioning their name, otherwise you’re not going to get anymore information from them (or any other source).

  • whiteAngus

    looks like the Pirates offer was originally for 2 seasons, but was upped to 3 years and $22MM

    • Fred Langford

      That’s a little better. Not much. I am slowly talking myself into Martin because of the defense and his toughness. We need more hard-nosed type of guys who are born tough and dont need marine training to get to that point. My worry isnt so much if he can play, it’s the price he plays at. I hate to see us overpay with money we could be spending on a better player or signing Walker or someone else to a deal.

News and Rumors

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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