Revisiting Russell

Back in mid-December, I wrote a piece in which I crowd-sourced a possible Russell Martin contract extension. I think it’s worth revisiting now, considering how the catching circumstances in the Yankee organization have changed.

Obviously, Jesus Montero is no longer an option at catcher for the Yankees. The biggest impact player behind the dish, Gary Sanchez, is still years away. Francisco Cervelli is most definitely not a long term answer, and Austin Romine remains relatively unproven. Romine likely has the highest probability to succeed, but his ceiling may not be as high as we once thought it was. His bat has stagnated a bit, though BA’s latest scouting report (subscription required) still speaks pretty highly of his defense.

With the question of future Yankee catcher a bit less clear now, let’s look ahead to 2013 and beyond. Martin is now under contract for 2012; he and the team avoided arbitration with a $7.5M deal and even discussed a two year contract. If we look ahead to the list of free agent catchers for 2013, we don’t see many horribly desirable candidates. Brian McCann is obviously the best, but there’s no way his option isn’t picked up. Chris Iannetta is solid, but also has an option. Mike Napoli is essentially a catcher in name only. Miguel Montero is intriguing, though, and David Ross may turn a head or two.

Still, it’s too early to peg any of these guys as candidates as the 2012 season hasn’t even reached its infantile stages yet. The fact, though, that the Yankees discussed a multi-year deal with Martin is indicative of their appreciation for him. With Montero out of the picture, I’m starting to think we’ll see Russell Martin in the Bronx beyond 2012. The two factors that will come into play most are cost and the performance of Austin Romine. If Romine takes a big step or two this year, he and his cheap contract could trump Martin, especially with the $189 by 2014 target looming (which always makes me think of this). Perhaps, though, that budget concern won’t apply much to Martin. Unless he completely rips the cover off the ball this year, I don’ think his price tag will venture much further than it already has. What say you, readers? Do you want Martin in the Bronx beyond 2012?

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

About Matt Imbrogno

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

15 thoughts on “Revisiting Russell

  1. I love Russell Martin, he has become criminally underrated by a fan base that places entirely too much emphasis on offense from the catcher position and completely ignores defense. He has plus pop in his bat for someone playing catcher, and I don’t think it’s a reach to say he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game. I’m thrilled to have him back for another season, especially at a relatively cheap 7 million, I’d also have no problem with him signing a 2 or possibly 3 year deal after the year is over. But I would like to at least have the Yankees consider Miguel Montero if he reaches free agency. M. Montero is no slouch behind the dish himself, and at the plate his left handed swing fits Yankee Stadium better than Martin’s right handed one. The biggest tipping point for M. Montero though is that he’s a year younger and never had the kind of injuries Martin has had in his career. When locking up any catcher on a long term deal injury is always a big risk, the catching position just opens itself up to injury more than any other position on the diamond. I feel a little more comfortable with M. Montero’s health in the long term than I do with Martin’s. Montero’s bat is also more of a middle of the lineup bat than Martin’s though so he will probably cost more and be inking a longer deal, which will obviously play a factor in which one the Yankees choose.

  2. The 2014 target is driving a lot of things. Have to wonder whether M. Montero on a multi-year deal would put too much stress on the 2014 budget.

  3. Ok I know Sanchez is few years away but what if Murphy,Higgy, or Romine step up this season? It seemed Russell had a good start to season but really declined after that. With his injury history it may be a good thing going year to year. Personally I like that kid down in Tampa, Ravel Santana. Hope he comes back from that ankle injury because he was really having a good season.

  4. I think he might have been talking about tejada when he said Santana. Even as intriguing as Murphy tejada and Sanchez are the EARLIEST we will see them is 2014. Romine reeks of brad ausmus to me. A guy who will peak in his early 30s as a decent everyday catcher. He is nowhere close to ready to supplant Martin who considering his defense is IMO one of the top 5 catchers in the al right now

  5. Tejada! That was who I was thinking of… Doh!
    I just don’t think Martin should be considered relatively cheap at 7M per. If you look at the list of highest paid catchers, Martin comes in at the 4th highest paid catcher in baseball. With the Yankees trying to get below 189M they may be better off spending their money elsewhere.

  6. No need to sign him to an extension now. We only have him because of injury concerns. Let him prove he can stay healthy (and productive) another year.

  7. “Do you want Martin in the Bronx beyond 2012?”

    Maybe you should ask the question before giving the answer that the Yankees need him beyond 2012.

    Romine is slipping in prospect rankings and thats not because the tide is rising.He ranks way behind Martin’s bat which seems to be on life support now.

    Cervelli is the forgotten man.

    Sanchez shows signs of following the Montero path…too much too soon and not a lot of blocking drills in between trips to go stand in the corner.

    So really there is no choice is there?