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.