There will be many MLB rumors surrounding the New York Yankees this off-season as they have several needs to fill through free agency with so many of their own players now able to sign with other teams. One of those players is catcher Russell Martin who figures to get a lot of interest with so few impact catchers and so many teams needing a catcher.
The Yankees like Martin and what he brings to the table. He hits for power and is a very good defensive catcher who has the confidence of the pitching staff. However, the Yankees probably won’t go longer than a three-year deal similar to the one they offered Martin earlier this year.
Martin rejected the Yankees three-year, $20 million deal in the hopes of having a good season and boosting his market value. Martin struggled offensively for long stretches this season but was always consistent behind the plate.
With the thin catching market, Martin might get an offer from another team that suits him better, leaving the Yankees with a gaping hole behind the plate.
Right now, the Yankees in-house options to replace Martin if he were to leave, are Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, or Austin Romine. None of those would make Yankee fans sleep well at night right now. Romine missed most of last season with a bad back and still might need another year or AAA before getting into the big leagues to stay.
Cervelli spent most of last season at AAA after the Yankees optioned him down to make room for Chris Stewart whom they acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Giants just before the season started. The Yankees, at one time, liked what they saw in Cervelli but now probably don’t view him as anything more than a backup. Depending on who the Yankees bring in to start, Cervelli could wind up on the trade block since he is now out of options and would likely draw a bigger return than Stewart in a trade.
Stewart is still under team control but is out of options, which is why Cervelli was sent down last year and not Stewart. Stewart does a lot of things well behind the plate but he is not someone you want to see on a lineup card four or five times a week.
The Yankees also claimed Eli Whiteside off of waivers from the Giants today but he is nothing more than a backup and will probably just be around to provide depth.
The Yankees need Russell Martin or another veteran catcher to hold down the position until Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine can handle a full-time MLB job. That means, if the Yankees don’t re-sign Martin, someone like A.J. Pierzynski could become the apple of the Yankees’ eye.