Thursday, March 29, 2012

Was Not Extending Martin A Mistake?

Is he wincing because he hurt his back again?

This morning I wrote about Russell Martin being the most important player, health-wise, on the team. The catching position had gotten little attention before that, but lo and behold here I am again talking about Russell.

Earlier today Burch posted about the set-back that Austin Romine suffered. At the time I first heard the news I didn't put that and the news about signing Craig Tatum together. I could blame it on having plans soon after reading it, so my mind was elsewhere, but I'll allow the "you idiot" comments to come my way. Now that I'm settled from the earlier festivities I've had time to think about things, particularly what this could mean for the future of the team.

When contract extension talks occurred recently between the Yankees and Russell Martin I was torn. On the one hand I've really liked Martin, mainly for his defense, but on the other hand he's nothing special. Need I remind you that he put up a line of .237/.324/.408 last season? If I was going to get upset over the team losing a great defensive catcher I would have been shedding a tear for Jose Molina... but I wasn't. So when it was announced that extension talks were being shelved I was okay with that. Particularly because the team had Austin Romine.

In 20 MLB plate appearances in 2011 Austin reached base only four times (three singles and one walk). He was unspectacular in the minors last season as well, having put up a line of .279/.343/.368. But it was the talk of his solid defense that made me believe that Romine could possibly hold down the catching spot until something better came along (be that Gary Sanchez or whoever). But seeing as how Austin had back issues last season, his back could be something that effects his playing career negatively. So it sounds like it's time to think about the 2013 Yankees sans Austin Romine.

Miguel Montero will be a free agent after this season, and I'd be more than happy to have him bring his .271/.338/.451 triple-slash to the Bombers. But seeing that the team's ability to reach a payroll of $189 million in 2014 and 2015 already looks pretty tough, along with the fact that Miguel could command up to a 5 year contract with an AAV of around $12 million (Yadier Molina just signed an extension with the Cardinals for 5 years and $75 million), I think it would be a good idea to take another look at Russell.

Unfortunately that means the team may have cost themselves a bit of money for not extending Martin last month. Back then they had more leverage as they could simply tell Russell, or his agent, that having Austin Romine around means they're in a position to let Martin walk at the end of the season. Now that they may have a true need at season's end, the team will probably need to shell out more than the 3 year/$20 million contract that was on the table. Not that Martin would cost around the same that Molina did, but he could be looking at a 3 year deal now worth upwards of $30 million (an AAV of $10 million).

Now, to be honest, I think the team could still reach that $189 million payroll. I don't think Cano is going anywhere, as the team will likely pay him around $20 million a year to stay. But a return of Martin could greatly effect the team's ability to bring back one of Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher (both would be near impossible), and round out the rotation when Phil Hughes becomes a free agent after the 2013 season. But there's a lot that can, and will, happen before that. So it may be best for them to extend Russell Martin sooner rather than later.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)