Having just hit the open market as a non-tender free agent, catcher Russell Martin is the newest name on the Yankees radar.
Late last night — or very early this morning — Michael Schmidt of the Times reported that the Yankees nearly traded for Martin before the non-tender deadline. The Yankees tried to send Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers, but the deal fell through. Now Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees are among the teams talking to Martin’s agent.
UPDATE: Schmidt says it was the Dodgers who proposed a Cervelli-for-Martin swap, and the Yankees who balked at making the trade.
Clearly, the Yankees like the idea of upgrading their bits-and-pieces situation behind the plate. They could add Martin to a group that already includes the aging Jorge Posada, the inexperienced Jesus Montero and the limited Cervelli.
Martin is far from a perfect solution behind the plate, but the Yankees don’t need a perfect solution. They just need another piece to make the picture a little better.
The bad: Hampered by a bad hip, it’s been two years since Martin was an especially productive hitter. The past two seasons he’s hit a very Cervelli-like .249/.350/.330. Even after a bad 2009, he still cost the Dodgers a little more than $5 million last year, so he’s not a contract you can overlook. He’s going to cost real money.
The good: The Yankees don’t need Martin to catch everyday. They can add him to their stable of misfit toys behind the plate, limiting the injury concern while adding a young but experienced option. Obviously the offensive upside is significant. For a while there, Martin seemed to be developing into one of the best hitting catchers in the game.