According to various sources, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with free agent catcher Russell Martin. Ken Rosenthal was the first to break the news on Thursday night:
It appears that the contract will be for two years and worth $17 million. The deal should be finalized on Friday.
Here’s a look at Martin’s career offensive numbers:
|162 Game Avg.||162||145||16||73||.260||.352||.399||.751|
Bill James projects him to hit .242 with 16 home runs next season.
He’s been to the All-Star Game three times, and has also won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He brings experience and leadership to Pittsburgh as well.
While the price tag was a little high, Martin is definitely an upgrade over Barajas. We were skeptical at first, but this excited us a little bit:
This is where each of Martin’s 2012 home runs would have landed at PNC Park. The large left field would be expected to take away some of Martin’s power, but it looks like about 18 of his 21 bombs would have cleared the fences.
He also had an extremely low batting average on balls in play last season, which means that his average might climb a bit. Still, a .211 batting average is concerning and certainly not what the Pirates need.
It was refreshing to hear that Martin was intrigued by Bucs (enough so that he wanted to sign here). Neil Walker mentioned at the end of the year that they needed more veteran leadership, and Martin, who already has seven years under his belt, seems to be a good addition for the clubhouse.
This speaks volumes to the development of Tony Sanchez; is he really that far off? He’s certainly had a disappointing minor league career to date, but he was definitely a candidate to back up Michael McKenry. Plus it’s a two-year deal, so they must not have much faith in him at all. Here’s what Sanchez had to say:
Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib brings up a reasonable point: Russell Martin’s deal could easily turn out to be similar to Matt Morris‘. He says, “It’s far clearer now than it was with Littlefield in 2007 that they’re in huge trouble, hanging by a thread. And right along with it comes a monster deal — by Pittsburgh standards — for a light-hitting catcher on the decline… But let’s not pretend this transaction was anything other than what it was: A desperation move.”
Finally, Neal Huntington has been here in Pittsburgh since 2007. He’s honestly done nothing but lose; plenty of fans want him gone. Has he improved the state of the franchise a bit? Sure – flocks of people went through the turnstiles at PNC last season, season ticket sales are up, and some money is definitely flying in (we’re sure Nutting loves that). NH is fighting for his job… but he’s playing with fire. This signing could be a domino effect for the Bucs – how much more cash do they have to spend? Could Joel Hanrahan‘s career as a Pirate be over? We’ll know soon enough, as the Winter Meetings take place next week. Can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.
Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons