Free Agent Focus: Russell Martin

In case you haven’t heard, the Dodgers have non-tendered catcher Russell Martin, making him a free agent.

Immediately, Mets fans might think, “hey, this guy is a perfect fit for us”. After all, he is a 27-year-old, righthanded-hitting catcher with promising offensive skills who can also play third base and probably the outfield if necessary. In fact, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti suggested that he could also play second base.

However, Martin is also coming off of a major hip injury that ended his 2010 season in early August. Additionally, his offensive performance fell off drastically since 2008 — particularly in terms of power — and has been on a steady decline since hitting 19 HRs and posting an .843 OPS in 2007.

For the record, I’ve always been a big fan of Martin — so much so that I suggested in October 2008 that the Mets acquire him in a deal for Carlos Beltran (funny, I figured Beltran’s value was peaking back then).

I still would love to see Martin come to the Mets, but it appears to be unlikely — mainly because there are a number of better, deeper-pocketed teams already clamoring for his services. For one, the Dodgers are still negotiating with Martin, and the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rockies are all reportedly bidding for his services as well. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Mets competing with those teams from a financial standpoint, and I doubt that Martin would choose the rebuilding Mets over clubs that have a more more realistic shot at the 2011 playoffs.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Paul December 4, 2010 at 11:26 am
    If Rod Barajas got better than $3 million, you might as well not even look at catchers who spend most of last year in the majors.

    Start checking the minor league free agents for possibilities.

    • Joe Janish December 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm
      Good point, Paul. I’d think Martin would be getting at least that much, if not more, even coming off the hip injury.
  2. mic December 5, 2010 at 10:23 am
    Dont care. The BEST FA catcher out there in my opinion, is FREE…Dionaar Navarro just one yr from being a big part of Tampa’s WS run. He’d make a nice 2 headed catching tandem with Josh.

    Next post: What to do with Murphy (no 2nd base). I think he could chase Ike at 1st base.

    Is Reyes really being dangled? Can Ruben be groomed to fill SS?

    I think Fmart starts at RF next yr, with someone (veteran) splitting time. My bet is CB goes to BSox but not for Ellsbury…I like a match for DiceK, who has had a peppery time of late.