The New York Yankees were outbid by a small market team in their efforts to retain free agent catcher Russell Martin, who agreed to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. The deal is believed to be for two years and worth $17 million. Reports had been circulating that Martin was seeking four years at $10 million per year.
Martin slugged 39 home runs over the past two seasons with the Yankees and has a reputation as a good defensive catcher. While his batting average has fallen seemingly each year, Martin has hit for more power has he has aged. Pittsburgh’s catchers, chiefly Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry, produced a .218/.300/.392 line with 23 home runs and just 68 RBI combined.
Martin contributed a .211/.311/.403 line last season with 21 home runs for New York. He’s a career .260/.352/.399 hitter in seven seasons between the Yankees and Dodgers.
In joining the Pirates, Martin re-unites with former Yankee teammate A.J. Burnett.
New York, it’s been reported, hadn’t made a single official offer to any position player yet this Winter, but Jon Heyman says New York had gone to two years and as high as $14 million for Martin before he opted to sign in Pittsburgh. The Yankees now have only Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli on their roster as catchers and will now likely have to turn to the free agent market to find a new backstop.
Veteran A.J. Pierzynski could be a target for New York.