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?