Moving on quickly after Cliff Lee turned them down, the Yankees “have agreed to terms on a contract with Russell Martin,” according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. It’s believed to be a one-year deal, although the Yankees would also have Martin under team control in 2012 as an arbitration-eligible player.
Because of his fractured hip Martin passing a pre-signing physical exam is probably no sure thing, but assuming he does the Yankees beat out the Red Sox and Blue Jays to nab the two-time All-Star after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers.
If healthy Martin will be given every opportunity to serve as the Yankees’ primary catcher, with Jorge Posada spending the bulk of his time at designated hitter. Francisco Cervelli is in line to be the backup after starting often in place of Posada this year and the Yankees’ top prospect, Jesus Montero, is for now at least a catcher even if many people believe he’ll eventually move out from behind the plate.
Not so long ago Martin was one of the best all-around catchers in baseball, hitting .285 with a .373 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage in 427 games through age 25, but he’s batted just .249 with a .350 OBP and .330 SLG in the past two seasons while missing half of 2010 with the fractured hip that remains a question mark. Bouncing back is hardly guaranteed considering how hard the Dodgers rode Martin prior to the hip injury, but he’s still just 28 years old and would bring plenty of value to the table with his defense and on-base skills even if the rest of his game lags behind.
Russell Martin’s agent said today that the rehabbing catcher is in “serious” talks with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays after the Dodgers all but ruled out a return by signing both Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com the Red Sox have made an offer to Martin, who was non-tendered last week when the Dodgers balked at his request for $5 million in guaranteed money coming off a fractured hip that sidelined him for much of this year.
Boston already has Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but at his healthy, productive best Martin was an upgrade over both of them and also has the defensive versatility to play elsewhere if needed. Of course, whether his bat would make him an asset elsewhere at this point is another question.
It’ll be interesting to see if whichever team signs Martin does so while getting a club option for 2012, as that could be the real value if his recovery from the hip injury sidelines him for part of 2011 or leaves him at less than full strength initially when he does return.
Manny Ramirez underwent hernia surgery shortly after the season ended, but yesterday agent Scott Boras told reporters that Ramirez “didn’t know about” the injury. Seriously.
According to Boras:
I’m not sure Manny knew about it. In fact, I know he didn’t know about it because we were all surprised. I don’t think Manny felt anything affected him during the season. It’s just the fact that when you find out you’ve got a situation where you’ve got to have surgery for a hernia-like situation, you obviously know it’s impactful. We found out that Manny had some medical maladies that had to be surgically repaired in the offseason. It had a pretty big impact on his performance.
Boras saying “it had a pretty big impact on his performance” despite also saying that Ramirez “didn’t know about it” is basically a perfect portrayal of the public’s perception of each person.
Boras is trying to spin it so that Ramirez’s complete lack of production following a trade to the White Sox can be blamed on the injury, no doubt to help stir up some free agent interest. At the same time Ramirez, who has long had a reputation for being oblivious to just about everything but hitting a baseball, played most of the season with a groin injury that eventually required surgery and “didn’t know about it.”
For whatever it’s worth, Boras also said that Ramirez is now fully recovered from the surgery and has a “good” market that involves “multiple teams” being interested. Whether or not Ramirez is aware of any of that remains unclear.
In a move that would seemingly rule out a return to Los Angeles for Russell Martin and likely send minor-league veteran A.J. Ellis back Triple-A for another season, Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com reports that the Dodgers are close to signing Dioner Navarro to a one-year deal.
Navarro played for the Dodgers in 2005 and part of 2006 before they sent him to the Rays in a deal for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson. He made one All-Star team in Tampa Bay, but never really lived up to his potential while hitting .243/.300/.352 in five seasons.
He debuted with the Dodgers as a 21-year-old top prospect and returns as a 27-year-old backup to Rod Barajas, although Jackson speculates that it could turn into more of an even playing time split.
Lefty reliever George Sherrill is “closing in on a deal” with the Braves, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
With a 6.69 ERA this season Sherrill earned his non-tender from the Dodgers, but he was an All-Star in 2008, had a 1.70 ERA in 2009, and still looks plenty capable of being a good left-handed specialist in 2011.
Right-handed batters crushed Sherrill this year, but he held lefties to .192/.286/.288. And that’s actually worse than his ridiculously great career mark of .167/.235/.265 versus lefties.
As long as the Braves keep his matchups against righties to a minimum, Sherrill should be a nice low-cost pickup.
UPDATE: Sherrill’s deal is for $1.2 million, with another $200,000 in possible incentives.