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Martin agrees to 2-year, $17M deal

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Neal Huntington, under pressure to deliver a winning season in 2013, came through Thursday with the most expensive free-agent signing of his five-plus years as Pirates general manager. Catcher Russell Martin has agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract, pending a physical. Martin will be in Pittsburgh on Friday to finalize the deal, which was confirmed to the Trib by two sources.

Martin, 29, spent the past two seasons with the New York Yankees. This year, he made $7.5 million and batted .211 with 21 home runs, 53 RBI and a .713 OPS. With only one experienced catcher – backup Michael McKenry – on their 40-man roster, the Pirates made Martin their top offseason target. They considered going after Mike Napoli, but decided he was no longer able to handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher and thus better suited for the American League. Martin gives the Pirates an instant and significant upgrade defensively. He threw out 24 percent (20 of 83) of would-be base-stealers last season. Rod Barajas, the Pirates’ starter last season, threw out just 6 percent of base-stealers.

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Comments

  1. Dean Lipperman says:

    Rob, I am generally happy with the signing of RuMart especially from the defensive side. How concerned should we be with his low batting average from last year? Do you see him batting seventh in the line up. My concern is having another Barajas, Barmes, Pitcher spot scenerio that made up the bottom third of the batting order. This by far was the weakest link in our line up. I just don’t see us competing when batters 7, 8, and 9 struggle to hit their weight.

  2. @Dean: I think the Pirates are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Did they overpay for Martin? Yeah, probably. Did they have many other options? Not really. He’s not Johnny Bench, but Martin still is a big upgrade defensively over last season. Offensively, there are troubling signs of decline over the past four years. The power is good, the ability to draw a walk — Martin’s 10.9 percent walk rate this year was better than that of every Pirates starter, including McCutchen (10.4 percent) — could help in the bottom third of the order. Martin’s stikeout rates (19.6 percent this year, 14.9 percent career) are tolerable. The Pirates this season had an overall strikeout rate of 22.5 percent; the loweest rate among the starters belonged to Jose Tabata (15.5 percent).

  3. Derrick says:

    I would like to point out that Rod Barajas threw out 25% or would-be base-stealers in 2011, and that dropped to 6% last year. The problem wasn’t Barajas, it’s the Pirates system of holding runners on, or the lack thereof. I can’t see Martin coming in here matching his career average unless the Pirates change the way they deal with baserunners.

    Also, I can’t see his offensive numbers improving in PNC Park. This is a waste of money when, quite frankly, it is possible that Mike McKenry is a better option behind the plate.

  4. Dcpinpgh says:

    How much did AJ Bernet help landing his former teammate?

 
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