Russell Martin, Yankees still discussing long-term deal

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UPDATE: Martin’s agent told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that the Yankees are now pitching the idea of figuring out a three-year deal that would cancel out his one-year contract, but “negotiations are in the early stages.”

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Russell Martin and the Yankees avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $7.5 million contract back in January, but the catcher revealed yesterday that the two sides had discussed a three-year extension before settling on the one-season pact.

Martin will be eligible for free agency after the season, but made it pretty clear to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he hopes to remain in New York long term, saying: “I love being here. Just the guys, the organization, the way they handle their business, it’s a fun environment.”

He got off to a great start last season and made the All-Star team, but then slumped after April and finished with with a career-low .237 batting average and .324 on-base percentage. He did smack 18 homers, which were Martin’s most since 2007, and produced a .732 OPS that was solidly above average for catchers.

Oh, and the 29-year-old catcher is in The Best Shape Of His Life. Again.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.