I missed this while I was on the road yesterday, but Jon Heyman reports that Russell Martin turned down an offer during the 2014 season from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Heyman says that the terms of the deal were unknown, and that there’s no indication that the sides are anywhere close on a deal right now.
This news isn’t a surprise. I wrote the other night about how Martin has been looking forward to free agency since the day he signed. His reason for signing a two-year deal, rather than the three-year deal the Pirates offered, was that it allowed him to re-enter free agency earlier.
Without knowing what the Pirates offered, I’d say there’s really no reason for Martin to take a deal when he’s so close to free agency. He’s the only starting catching option on the open market, and as Heyman notes, big spenders like the Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs, and Dodgers could be looking for a catcher. Unless the Pirates offered a ridiculous amount of money before he hit the open market, there would be no reason for him to accept an early deal.
As for the amount, Heyman throws out two comps: Miguel Montero (5 years, $60 M) and Brian McCann (5 years, $85 M). I think Martin will fall closer to the McCann deal, although my guess is that it could be closer to 5/$75, or 4/$60 if he doesn’t get that fifth year. Montero signed his deal a year before free agency, which impacts the price, and both catchers were younger than Martin, which might impact his chances of getting that fifth year. That said, if a big spending team wants to land Martin, they might have to commit to the fifth year, even though there’s a decent chance that year could be a sunk cost.
In the Pirates’ case, I think they should go up to four years, and I think $15 M a year is totally reasonable. Anything beyond that in years and dollars makes it harder to justify bringing back Martin.