Ken Rosenthal discussed Russell Martin’s upcoming trip to free agency in today’s column (h/t MLBTR). In the article, he mentioned a lot of things that we already know, including that the Pirates want Martin back. He also included speculation that is often said, such as how Martin’s price could soar beyond the team’s comfort level. The speculation rests more on the potential for Martin’s price to soar, as Neal Huntington has said himself that the Pirates think Martin’s price this off-season will go beyond what the Pirates could spend.
Rosenthal does add some speculation on what Martin will cost. He says that Martin probably won’t get the five-year, $60 M deal that Miguel Montero received from the Diamondbacks, but that he should beat the three-year, $26 M deal Carlos Ruiz got last year. There’s not a big gap there, as we’re talking an annual value of $9-12 M per year between the two contracts. Perhaps Rosenthal was focusing more on the years for Montero, rather than the price.
If Martin costs $12 M a year, then the Pirates definitely have to bring him back. They got him for two years and $17 M the last time around. At the time, that wasn’t universally regarded as a huge value, and was actually seen as a big price to pay for Martin. Since that time, we’ve learned a lot more about the value of catcher defense. However, there is still a lot that we don’t know, or don’t fully appreciate. Martin probably isn’t repeating his offensive success from this season, but his defense alone would be worth more than $12 M per year.