Red Sox can't re-sign Martinez just yet

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The Red Sox may well want Victor Martinez as their catcher beyond 2010. He’s not much defensively and he never will be, but he doesn’t embarrass himself and it could be a long time before a real upgrade is available. Still, despite Martinez’s obvious eagerness to get a deal done now, nothing figures to happen for two very big reasons.
1. Joe Mauer still hasn’t reupped with the Twins.
Mauer would likely spur the biggest bidding war yet between the Yankees and Red Sox if the Twins fail to sign him to an extension past 2010. As is, Mauer and Martinez are far and away the top catchers set to be available next winter. A.J. Pierzynski, Gerald Laird and Bengie Molina are the best of the rest. Things don’t look any better two years down the line. Yadier Molina has a 2012 option that’s sure to be picked up. Jorge Posada will be a free agent, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be a catcher in 2012. Brian McCann and Russell Martin are still three years away from free agency (four for McCann if his option is picked up).
Odds are that a Mauer deal will get done, and that could spur the Red Sox into action with Martinez. However, there’s another factor that weighs heavily that will be overlooked by some:
2. Martinez’s current contract is extremely friendly for luxury-tax purposes.
I touched on this subject back in December.
With all of their recent moves, the Red Sox are in danger of having to pay the luxury tax for the first time since 2004. An extension for Martinez wouldn’t necessarily add anything to the team’s 2010 payroll, but it would immediately raise Martinez’s luxury tax figure from $7.68 million and replace it with his new average annual salary (with the 2010 salary still factoring into the mix). Since it would likely take at least $12 million per year to sign Martinez, the jump could push the Red Sox over the top.
So, even if it costs a few extra million dollars then, the Red Sox would likely be better off waiting until next winter to re-sign Martinez.

Pirates set to promote top prospect Mitch Keller

Mitch Keller
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MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo reports that the Pirates will promote top pitching prospect Mitch Keller in advance of their doubleheader against the Reds on Monday. Confirmation of the move is still pending an official announcement, but Keller will reportedly face off against Sonny Gray in Game 2.

Keller, 23, is currently listed as the Pirates’ no. 1 prospect and the no. 16 overall prospect in the league, per MLB.com. He was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft and has spent the last six years refining his technique in Pittsburgh’s farm system, where he recently made the jump to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2018. So far this season, he’s 5-0 in nine starts with a 3.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 10.7 SO/9 through 47 innings.

It’s not clear how long of a leash the Pirates will give Keller, though given the current state of their rotation — down to four serviceable starters with Jameson Taillon on the 60-day injured list (right elbow flexor strain), Trevor Williams on the 10-day IL (right side strain), and a handful of replacements yet to impress — they may be inclined to keep him on a little longer than his spot start requires.