Sep 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrates with left fielder Starling Marte (6) after hitting a three run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the eighth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Well, it is all but over for the Pittsburgh Pirates to re-sign beloved catcher Russell Martin after he agreed to a five-year $82 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays pending a physical. The deal is definitely worth it to the Blue Jays who nearly used a handful of catchers during the 2014 season. The cost seems a little high for a 31-year-old catcher, but Martin did come off a season where he posted an incredible .402 OBP. He also hit .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBI.
This deal officially ends any hopes Pirates fans had of keeping Martin around. Last week the Pirates made it clear they knew were out of the running and moving forward after making a trade with the New York Yankees in acquiring catcher Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli is not a comparable player to Martin, but FanGraphs projects Martin to fall off considerably next season. He is predicted to hit only .241 with a .341 OBP.
While his offense helped the Pirates tremendously, no one could have expected he would put up those kinds of numbers in a year that seemed out of the norm for what he had done in his previous five seasons. Martin never hit better than .250 and his best OBP was .252 between the 2009 to 2013 seasons. Both of those numbers happened in 2009 and he actually only hit .226 with the Pirates in 2013. It is great to look at his 2014 and think that his career may be rejuvenated, but it is also highly unlikely. Martin is a catcher and catchers get worn down. He will not match his 2014 with the Jays.
Pirates fans really wanted Martin back because he packed a punch that showed up when the lights were brightest, but losing him for that amount of money would not have been worth it in the long game. Martin did have a tremendous defensive season and that will be missed.
Still, the Pirates have three catchers and time to make a trade. It may be a sad day for some, but the Pirates saved money and Martin will not be the same player he was in 2014. It may sound weird right now, but losing Martin is probably a good thing for the future of the club.