Russell Martin has agreed to a five-year contract with the Blue Jays, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
For the past several weeks the Cubs were viewed as the front-runner for Martin and the Pirates were also making a run at re-signing the 31-year-old catcher, but the Canada native decided instead to head home.
After a great start to his career with the Dodgers he mostly struggled from 2009-2013, never cracking a .750 OPS, but Martin hit .290 with a .402 on-base percentage and .832 OPS in 111 games for the Pirates this season to re-establish himself as one of the game’s best catchers.
In addition to the good on-base skills and durability Martin also grades out extremely well in pitch-framing statistics, suggesting his all-around value is generally underrated.
No word yet on the money, but last offseason’s five-year, $85 million deal between Brian McCann and the Yankees seems to be a likely starting point.
UPDATE: Martin will get $82 million for five seasons.
Brook Jacoby is the Blue Jays’ new hitting coach.
Toronto hired him away from Texas, where he was the Rangers’ assistant hitting coach. Jacoby previously was the Reds’ hitting coach for seven years and before that played 11 years in the majors as a third baseman.
Jacoby replaces Kevin Seitzer, who left the Blue Jays to become the Braves’ hitting coach last month.
Detroit announced that it has exercised Alex Avila’s option for 2015, bringing back the catcher for $5.4 million.
Avila has struggled following what looked like a breakout 2011 season, hitting just .229 with a .705 OPS in 342 games since then, and multiple concussions have put his future behind the plate in some question.
However, he’s still just 28 years and, underwhelming as his recent production has been compared to his big 2011 campaign, his .705 OPS from 2012-2014 is still above average for MLB catchers.
For a while now the assumption has been that the Tigers will not re-sign free agent ace Max Scherzer, but the door for a return is at least a little bit open.
General manager Dave Dombrowski told Jason Beck of MLB.com that “we’ll just wait and see what happens” because he doesn’t expect Scherzer and his agent, Scott Boras, to move the process along quickly. And of course Boras is very open to the idea of Scherzer returning to Detroit, because he simply wants the most interested teams as possible in the mix.
However, the Tigers seemingly acquired David Price from the Rays in part to replace Scherzer atop the rotation in 2015 and, even without Scherzer returning, Detroit’s rotation will approach an $80 million payroll by itself next season. And the Tigers just spent $68 million to re-sign 36-year-old designated hitter Victor Martinez.
Last night it was believed to be 10 years and $300 million. This morning it was said to be 12 years and $320 million. And now both Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com report that Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins are close to signing a 13-year, $325 million contract.
Stanton’s new deal would break the previous record for the largest contract in MLB history, which is Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers at $292 million for 10 years.
Stanton still has two seasons of team control remaining via arbitration, so assuming this 13-year contract covers those two seasons and 11 seasons of free agency he’d be locked up through age 37 in 2027.
Stanton, who turned 25 years old earlier this month, finished runner-up in the NL MVP voting after hitting .288 with 37 homers and a .950 OPS in 142 games for the Marlins this season. He’s a career .271 hitter with a .903 OPS in 634 games, but the Marlins failed to finish with a winning record in any of his first five seasons and have not made the playoffs since 2003.