Report: Pirates offered Russell Martin an extension; he rejected it

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Pirates offered catcher and soon-to-be free agent Russell Martin a contract extension late during the regular season, but Martin rejected it. Details of the offer are not known.

Martin, 31, had a fantastic year with the Pirates, the latter half of a two-year, $17 million contract he signed with the club in November 2012. The veteran hit .290/.402/.430 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI while being a stalwart behind the plate. Among hitters with at least 450 plate appearances, Martin’s .402 on-base percentage ranked fourth in baseball behind teammate Andrew McCutchen, Victor Martinez, and Jose Bautista.

The upcoming free agent market for catchers is grim beyond Martin, so teams in need of a front-line catcher will have laser focus on him. Last off-season, Brian McCann was made rich when he signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees during the past off-season — $59 million more than the next-richest contract (Carlos Ruiz, Phillies for three years). Heyman suggests Martin could attain a similar contract in both length and value, which may price the Pirates out of the bidding.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.