No, not THAT Martin.
With Jesus Montero and Francisco Cervelli as their slated 2011 catchers, the Yanks weren’t too comfortable. There is a lot of youth and inexperience there. The Yanks would like Montero to (pardon the pun ) “catch” on, but probably weren’t too happy knowing that if Montero wasn’t ready that Cervelli would be their #1. Talents like Romine and Sanchez are still a few years off.
So they signed Russell Martin. The righty hitting catcher will be just 28 next year. He is coming off a hip injury so there is a bit of concern. He and Montero will compete for the starting job, and (as for now) Cervelli is still there. Posada is there, but as a DH. It looks like the last thing the Yanks want Jorge to do is catch.
No details yet, but it can’t be a long-term deal for Martin. Not with all the young catching prospects the Yanks have. But it does increase the likelihood that now a catcher may be put into a package for a starting pitcher. Cashman is said to now look into shoring up the bullpen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Joba also winds up as part of a package for a starter.
Martin missed about two months of the 2010 season and hit .248-5-26 in 2010. He’s been a two-time all-star, and has won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. In 2007 he hit 19 HR and drove in 87 runs while stealing 21 bases. His numbers have dropped off since that .293 hitting sophomore campaign. From .293 to .280, .250 and .248. OPS+ numbers of 116, 108, 85 and 89. In the postseason, Martin is .224-1-9 in 19 games. Martin’s career marks come to a 162 g. average of .272-13-73 with an OPS+ of 101. Figure that if he catches 120 games he’d put up .272-11-60. I’d figure him for 8th in the Yankees’ lineup.
Well, this is one move. Let’s see what other moves are part of ”Plan B.”
Cashman in a press conference:
On the failed mid-season trade attempt: “I’m thankful even more so now that I didn’t do that.”
Good point. Could you imagine losing Montero for 1/2 season of Lee, now knowing his heart was in Philly? Maybe Lee could have helped the Yanks to (or win) the 2010 WS, but if he left NY after just 1/2 a year in the Bronx, sheesh. Montero for 1/2 a year of Lee? That’d have been too much.
More from Cashman, via LoHud:
“I think it would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal.”
But I think Cervelli could be gone.
Update 12/15: From MLBTR:
The Yankees’ $4MM (1 yr.) deal with Russell Martin is official now that he has passed his physical, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter links). With Jorge Posada moving into a designated hitter role next year, Martin should be the Yankees’ starting catcher. Since Martin has less than five years of service time, he’s under team control for 2012 as an arbitration eligible player.