MLB Rumors: Pittsburgh Pirates Interested in Russell Martin

By Jeff Moore

Two rumors today have the Pittsburgh Pirates showing interest in New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin and suggest that he could be looking for a contract in the range of four years at $9-10 million per season.

Pirates fans can now light themselves on fire.

Signing Russell Martin to a four-year, $40 million contract would signify everything that has plagued the Pirates organization over the last two decades. During that time, they’ve had zero winning seasons, or as many seasons as Martin has batted over .250 since 2008.

The Pirates need help behind the plate. I’ve suggested fellow free agent Mike Napoli repeatedly and he can probably be had for only a little more than what Martin is requesting. But spending $10 million a season for a league-average catcher is simply bad baseball.

Perhaps the Yankees can afford to take on these kinds of contracts, but the Pirates certainly can not. A $10 million commitment to Martin would make him the second-highest paid player on the Pirates roster and would represent roughly 20 percent of their anticipated 2013 payroll.

Meanwhile, Martin has averaged .236/.334/.368 over the past four seasons.

Martin is one the player he once was.  In his first few seasons, Martin played at an all-star level while the Los Angeles Dodgers literally ran him into the ground.  That wear and tear has taken it’s toll on Martin who, at this point, offers little outside of decent power for a catcher.

The Pirates, on the other hand, have just Michael McKenry behind the plate at the moment.  McKendry is best suited to be a backup. He got slightly over-exposed to the league last season and hit .233/.320/.442 in 88 games. He’s not suited to really be a starter, but he can likely replicate Martin’s offensive numbers. At the very least, he can provide 75 percent of Martin’s value for roughly 1/20th of the price.

The Pirates need to add players and can invest $10 million in a player or two this off-season, but it should absolutely not be Russell Martin.

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