Here’s something for the early offseason surprises file: according to George King the Yankees have yet to make an offer to gfree agent catcher Russell Martin. In fact, with Hiroki Kuroda re-signed, the Yankees have yet to make an offer to any free agents, including Mariano Rivera. That they haven’t made any offers to Mo or Andy Pettitte, who has yet to officially declare that he’s even going to play next season, doesn’t really surprise me all that much, given that there’s basically no chance they’re playing for another team in 2013, but you would have thought there would have been more of a sense of urgency with Martin, who could be a relatively hot commodity this winter. Instead, King reports that the Yankees intend to wait to do anything on Martin until they have deals in place with Rivera and Pettitte.
That strikes me as a fairly risky proposition, because the free agent catching market is a veritable dessert. If you don’t count Mike Napoli as a starting catcher, which you shouldn’t, the only guys who fit that bill are Martin and the near-40 A.J. Pierzynski, which should make Martin a prime target for any team in need of a catcher. According to King, “industry experts” expect Martin to get a three year contract with an annual salary in the $8-10 million range, which both seems about right to me and would be a bigger deal than the offer he reportedly turned down from the Yankees last season. But looking at the way the offseason is shaking out right now andknowing that there’s more television money flowing to every team, it wouldn’t surprise me to see his final contract exceed that amount of money.
The Yankees understandably made Kuroda their top priority this month, but a case could easily be made that Martin is their most irreplaceable free agent, given the lack of alternatives both on the market and in house. That they want to square away what will surely be one year deals with two team legends who aren’t going anywhere before making a serious attempt to get Martin re-signed doesn’t really give me a good feeling as to how the rest of the hot stove season is going to go.