Russell Martin says New York Yankees made an ‘expensive mistake’


Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Martin made headlines Monday when he weighed in on the Yankees decision to part ways with him and a year later sign Brian McCann to a lavish, multi-year deal.

"“It becomes an expensive mistake, no question. They can’t turn back the clock. They went and got a good guy who, offensively, puts up better numbers than I have and so costs a lot of money. I love McCann. They got a good one. Personally, I thought it was a mistake. There are no hard feelings. I definitely didn’t feel like it was in the general manager’s hands at that point. I always believed [Brian] Cashman and [assistant GM Billy] Eppler and the coaching staff did want me back. I had some presence and a good impact on the team. But the money doesn’t come from them and I felt at the time, they had different priorities and I wasn’t at the top of the list.”"

Many people, some Yankees fans in particular, took exception to the remark and thought the comment was out-of-place and to some degree, just not true. Although Martin’s statement may come across as arrogant, he was one-hundred percent correct saying the Yankees made “an expensive mistake.”

Despite the fact McCann is a much better hitter than Martin, in reality their value is remarkably similar. Martin makes his living, for the most part, with his skills behind the dish. He is a terrific pitch-framer, a tremendous defensive player, and among the game’s best at handling a pitching staff.

Let’s take a look at how the Pirates staff improved with Martin calling the shots:

A.J. Burnett:

2012 (without Martin) 3.51 ERA | 2013 (with Martin) 3.30 ERA

Jeff Locke:

2012 (without Martin) 5.50 ERA | 2013 (with Martin) 3.52 ERA

Francisco Liriano:

2012 (without Martin) 5.34 ERA | 2013 (with Martin) 3.02 ERA

Charlie Morton:

2012 (without Martin) 4.65 ERA | 2013 (with Martin) 3.26 ERA

Wandy Rodriguez

2012 (without Martin) 3.76 ERA | 2013 (with Martin) 3.59 ERA

Martin’s defensive and intangibles are irrefutable and he is not too shabby with the bat, either. His wRC+ (adjusted league and park effects based on wOBA) the past three years reads as follows: 2011- 100; 2012- 95; 2013- 101. As you read this, keep in mind 100 is considered an average wRC+. For those not familiar with sabermetrics, wOBA is a statistic that measures the value of a walk, single, double, triple, and home run in terms of how often they led to a run for the given year. Now here is McCann’s wRC+ the past three seasons: 2011- 122; 2012- 87; 2013- 122.  Martin is clearly inferior to McCann on offense, granted it is closer than one might assume.

McCann’s problems staying on the field have caused some concern and his durability has been called into question. However, it should be noted that McCann has tallied over 400 plate appearances and 100 games each of the last three years.

McCann is a great defensive catcher, too, particularly where pitch-framing is concerned. He is a better player than Martin – no question about it.  McCann’s contract costs $68 million more than Martin’s, assuming the 6th year option is not exercised. McCann is set to make $8.5 million more in average annual value as well. All the money spent on acquiring a “viable” catcher, could have gone towards retaining Robinson Cano or signing on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo opposed to the aging Carlos Beltran. Martin is a lot closer to McCann-esque talent than one might think and the Yankees surely will regret not resigning Martin.