Russell Martin expects to be back with the Yankees in 2012

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Russell Martin signed with the Yankees as a free agent last offseason, but he remains arbitration eligible for 2012 and because of that the All-Star catcher said yesterday that he expects to be back in New York next season.

“So either I’ll get offered a contract or I won’t get offered a contract,” Martin told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. “It is the same situation I was in with the Dodgers last year. Now, it is up to the Yankees to make a decision. For me, I would like nothing more than to be here.”

Whereas the Dodgers non-tendered Martin following a career-worst, injury wrecked season, the Yankees will almost surely retain him for what will likely be around $6 million.

Martin’s overall numbers were mediocre and he cracked a .700 OPS in just two months, but for a one-year commitment at a hard-to-fill position he certainly makes sense after hitting .237 with 18 homers in 125 games. Among the 26 catchers to bat at least 300 times this season Martin ranked 14th in OPS and also threw out 30 percent of steal attempts.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.