We knew that free agent catcher Russell Martin would carry a high price tag. According to Sportsnet.ca, here’s how high: $75-80 million over five years.
If true, the $75-80 million might not scare off the Dodgers as much as the five years. Martin turns 32 in February. A five-year contract would take him through his age-36 season. He is coming off a season in which he missed 21 games due to a hamstring injury, only the second disabled list stint of his career.
Martin’s most highly touted value as a catcher is his ability to frame pitches. He excels at other aspects of the position; Martin only committed three passed balls last year in 940 innings behind the plate, on par with Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina (who caught nine fewer innings). His catcher’s ERA of 3.31 was second to Molina among NL catchers who appeared in at least 100 games. He threw out 38.5 percent of attempted base stealers in 2014 and 40 percent in 2013, both among the top 10 in the National League.
But if the Dodgers are afraid that Martin’s offense will fall off, history justifies their hesitation. Here are two pieces (via FanGraphs.com and TribLive.com) that used history to guide the question of how well catchers perform on offense as they age.
No doubt the Dodgers have studied those numbers, and probably a few more too, while pondering a reunion (with a catcher who’s never played for Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi or Josh Byrnes). They have reportedly lined up a meeting with Martin’s agent, Matt Colleran.
Former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin batted 290 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014.
The signing of Ryan Jackson and the release of Scott Elbert yesterday put the Dodgers’ 40-man roster at 36 Monday. Today is the first day free agents can sign with any club. With four empty roster spots, what should Andrew Friedman do?
Here are four free ideas:
Sports Illustrated today ranked the top 50 free agents and picked two — catcher Russell Martin and pitcher Jason Hammel — as “best fits” for the Dodgers.
Of Hammel, Ben Reiter writes:
He’d be a smart signing for the Dodgers and could make for a very effective No. 4 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
And of Martin:
The Dodgers have been getting by with A.J. Ellis behind the plate for a few seasons, but that will change in 2015. New team president Andrew Friedman’s first major expenditure will likely be to bring Martin back to the club for which he played between 2006 and ’10.
Free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, was tabbed a “best fit” for the New York Yankees. The Dodgers are expected to extend Ramirez a qualifying offer today.
Each qualifying offer is a one-year, $15.3 million contract. If the player rejects it and signs elsewhere, his former team receives a supplemental-round draft pick in 2015.