Neal Huntington intends to keep Russell Martin in a Pirates uniform

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Pirates catcher Russell Martin knocked in the Pirates’ only run in Sunday’s 1-0 win against the Brewers, helping them inch their way closer to punching at least a ticket to the National League Wild Card play-in game. That came after slugging a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning on Friday to send the Pirates to a late win over the Brewers. Both underscore Martin’s importance to the team.

In fact, had Martin not missed a month between late April and late May, he would very likely have a solid case in the NL MVP conversation. Along with solid defense at the most important position on the diamond, Martin has hit .297/.408/.442 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI. The .408 on-base percentage is tops in baseball.

Martin is also a free agent after the season, which presents an issue for the Pirates. If they’re going to keep him around, they are going to have to commit more years and more money than the two-year, $17 million contract they signed him to back in November 2012. Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants to keep Martin around, though. Via Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune:

Huntington is not wrong to be apprehensive. Martin is 31 and is having what is, by far, the best season of his career. He plays a position in which players are regularly beat up and injuries are commonplace. It’s easy to have a multi-year deal with a catcher go sour very quickly. But, for the contending Pirates, they may not have any better option, as the free agent market is no longer filled to the brim with talent.