Russell Martin needs knee surgery, but the Yankees signed him anyway

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Russell Martin officially signed his one-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees after passing a physical exam earlier this week, but it turns out he didn’t so much “pass” as the Yankees were only concerned with the status of his fractured hip.

Presumably they were encouraged enough by what they saw in his recovery from that injury to sign off on the contract, because Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the physical exam revealed Martin needs knee surgery.

Sherman classifies it as minor surgery and Martin is expected to be recovered from the operation in time for spring training, but going under the knife complicates things even further for the 28-year-old catcher who was already somewhat of a question mark coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons and a major hip injury.

Sherman opines that the Yankees’ willingness to sign Martin anyway “says lot about” their lack of faith in top prospect Jesus Montero being ready to catch in the majors in 2011, but realistically a minor knee surgery in mid-December seems unlikely to hold up a signing regardless.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.