UPDATED: Russell Martin? Yes!

So, let’s say that Martin should be ready for Opening Day (which is actually reasonable). What are the Yankees going to get from him? Russell Martin was one of the most valuable players in baseball in 2007, and he was pretty good again in 2008. Nothing about those years was particularly fluky, but his ISO dropped from .176 to .116 to .079 to .085. His amazing 2007 is out of the question, but 2008 isn’t. He usually has a BABiP around .300, but he’s been around 20 points below that over the past few seasons while not losing anything off his LD%, BB%, or K% (his K% went up this past season, but those numbers don’t include about 50 games that were in other seasons, which could have balanced it out). Considering all of this, he’s probably somewhere between his 2008 line of .280/.385/.396 and his 2009 line of .250/.352/.329, and because those seasons gave him 4.6 and 2.2 fWAR, he’d be around a 3-win player if he could play 140-150 games. If he caught around 100 games, he’ll probably be around 2-2.5 wins, which would be worth about $8.5-9.5 million. He’s no longer the absolute stud from 2007, but he’s a catcher who can still get on base at an excellent clip for a catcher, which makes him fairly valuable. LA seems to have become frustrated with what he could be instead of accepting what he is (or have serious concerns with his health, but we’re assuming he’s okay, or at least on schedule, because we haven’t heard otherwise) because they just gave up a guy who has still been worth at least 2 wins the past 2 seasons.

But the question again becomes how healthy he will be. No one really knows for sure. Anyone who thinks about signing him should take a good look at his medical records, and if medical professionals deem him healthy enough to play, I don’t see a problem believing he could play 100 games. Torre and the Dodgers rode him pretty hard, and the years of wear-and-tear may have led to the injury. If the Yankees want to bring him on-board, they need to be careful how often they use him, and I’d try to offer something closer to $5 million to off-set for the injury risk. The Yankees may be the perfect fit for what Martin needs—a place to rebuild his value, a place to ease back in, and a place that doesn’t need him to be a key cog in the lineup—and he’s a perfect fit for what the Yankees need—a decent defensive catcher to play part-time and hit at the bottom of the order while not killing the offense. The problem is that Martin probably wants a full-time job, and while the Yankees’ situation may be best for what Martin needs, Martin may be able to find an actual starter’s job somewhere else. But the Yankees should try anyway. Three-win catchers don’t grow on trees.

*Yes, Jesus Montero needs to be mentioned. But I’m going off a couple assumptions. One, Montero shouldn’t be catching. Two, getting Martin would allow the still-20-year old Montero to season a little longer in the minors.

14 thoughts on “UPDATED: Russell Martin? Yes!

  1. jay_robertson

    Why not drop 5 mil on him? If we can get him for that, of course. That's what Johnson cost us – what did that work out to – 12 hits as a Yankee last year, or approx $416,666.66 per hit. Of course, Nick lasted 24 games – so you'd have to hope Mr. Martin could stay healthy that long.

    • Mark Smith

      He won't get any more than that, unless someone's desperate.

  2. Martin's been one of my favorite players to watch ever since the Dodgers brought him up. When he's healthy, he's got tons of energy and hustle, he works well with his pitching staff, is solid against the running game, and is a patient, compact hitter (at one time it looked like he had 20/20 potential, but those days are probably long gone). Derek Jeter happens to be his favorite player, so if wouldn't surprise me at all if he were really, really interested in being a Yankee. I'm not happy about it, but it makes sense. For $5 Mil. or less the Yankees get a guy with relatively high upside who should fill the gap until Jesus Montero is ready, and, Martin gets to play on the big stage and hit in a lineup and ballpark that should inflate his production a little, thus rebuilding his market for 2012. Seem like win-win. However, a similar win-win situation can probably be observed in Boston and elsewhere. There isn't much good catching available, so I could see a minor bidding war developing if the progress reports from Martin's rehab are solid.

  3. Sabrina

    Finally some good news out of Yankee land! Now lets get a pitcher please..sign back Wood and get on our quest for 28!

  4. Brien@IIATMS

    "Probably keeping Montero in AAA" is probably a bit of an overstatement. At most, I think Martin is basically an upgrade over Cervelli and a good caddy for Montero. But if at any point the Yankees feel Montero is ready to be the primary catcher and handle a full load, he is absolutely not going to be blocked by Russell Martin.

    It does tell me that they don't see Posada as a catcher in any way though.

    • Mark Smith

      I was being cautious. ;)

      Anyway, Montero would be insurance in case something happens to Martin, but I don't think it hurts Montero at all to stay down a little longer–if anything, maybe it will show him that even his bat won't make for an easy trip to the majors? In any case, I don't think Montero will be blocked, but I'm also not convinced he'll be the main catcher at any point (DH once Posada leaves).

      • Brien@IIATMS

        Well we're not really in disagreement then, since that would necessarily imply that he isn't ready to catch.

        • Mark Smith

          Nah. I've seen enough conflicting reports to think he's more "really bad" than "unplayable", and I also think he's gotten by so far based on his bat that he really hasn't concentrated that much on the glove, which means he can probably improve. With that need to improve, however, I think he could stay down for a few months just to make sure. If anything happens to Martin at any time, bring Montero up.

  5. moooose

    In my optimistic sunny place (it's 24 degrees in Virginia), Martin turns out like Swisher. Both are guys who had great production then slipped, causing their teams to give up on them. Martin, like Swisher comes cheap with big time upside.

    Of course there's that hip…

  6. jay_robertson

    Funny, reading the Post. I'm sure Joel had half a dozen pieces already in the bin for the Lee signing. And now, instead, he is forced to gush on what a great score Martin is.

    I'm glad we got him. But please chill, Mr. Sherman. This is like having a date set up with Marcia Brady, but when you open the door, you find that you're really taking out the maid. It might be better than being stood up altogether, but it might not.

  7. It sure was a bad time to be off-grid for 12-14 hours. Nice work, everyone!!!!

    • Mark Smith

      Yeah, you went to bed, and the mayhem started–bogus Ken Rosenthal tweet, then the real shabang, and then Russell Martin

  8. Sabrina

    i cringe while i say this but another stab at pavano lol..or trade for someone…i have no idea..but i still think we need one more pitcher.

  9. Sabrina

    Greinke will be sweet to have wtih andy coming back..that would give us cc, grienke, andy, aj, hughes..now that would be a nice christmas present.

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