Russell Martin told reporters earlier this month that he was planning to play shortstop for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. But it won’t happen.
According to beat writer Tom Singer of MLB.com, Martin has withdrawn from the event because the Pirates and officials from Team Canada have told him that they don’t want him playing anything but catcher for fear that he might suffer an injury.
“They both were uneasy about that and I simply didn’t want to catch,” said Martin, who was born in East York, Ontario. “I feel sorry for (Team Canada), but sometimes you just have to look out for what’s best for you. You have to make a personal choice. But I’m really sorry for how all this went down.”
Martin signed a two-year, $17 million free agent contract with the Bucs in late November and will open the 2013 season as Pittsburgh’s starting catcher. He hit .211/.311/.403 with 21 homers for the Yankees in 2012.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets will try veteran Jose Reyes in the outfield during spring training ahead of the 2017 season. Reyes, who has been in the majors over parts of 14 seasons, hasn’t logged any time in the outfield as a professional baseball player.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in a domestic violence issue last offseason, the Mets acquired him after the Rockies released him in June, following a 51-game suspension. He hit .267/.326/.443 with 25 extra-base hits, 24 RBI, and 45 runs scored in 279 plate appearances, spending most of his time at third base in place of the injured David Wright.
The Mets’ outfield is set with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto plus one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce. Reyes and Juan Lagares would serve as backups.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.
What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”
That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.
The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.
UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered: