Yesterday, the Diamondbacks reportedly reached an agreement on a five-year extension with catcher Miguel Montero, further diluting an offseason free market market that offers few alternatives to slumping Yankees catcher Russell Martin.
Once a position of unquestioned strength, catcher is now a place of uncertainty for the Yankees. Martin is hitting well below .200, Austin Romine is dealing with a lingering back injury, and Jesus Montero is playing for Seattle. Gary Sanchez is having a nice year in Charleston, but he’s not nearly big league ready, and the upper levels of the Yankees minor league system seem to offer potential backups rather than front-line prospects.
Can’t-miss, two-way catchers are hard to find in baseball, and teams are locking up their young guys before they reach free agency. During spring training, the Cardinals gave Yadier Molina a five-year extension plus a mutual option. In April, the Indians signed Carlos Santana for five years plus a club option. That doesn’t leave many alternatives for the Yankees to consider this offseason.
Martin is getting on base at a surprisingly good rate considering his sub-.200 batting average. The Yankees still love his defense and ability to work with the pitching staff, and his .190 batting average on balls in play suggests he hasn’t been particularly lucky (his diminished line drive rate suggests he’s creating some of that bad luck). Could that be enough to keep Martin in pinstripes beyond this season?
“Russell’s run into some bad luck,” Joe Girardi said. “The one thing Russell has done is he’s gotten on base. That’s the one thing. When you look at his average, and then you look at how much he’s been on, it’s really pretty incredible. If he was hitting normal, he’d probably have an on-base percentage over .400, but I’ve seen some good signs from him. He’s hit some balls harder, and we know he’s capable of doing more.”
Associated Press photo