Cubs Believed To Be Clear Front-Runner For Russell Martin

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Chicago Cubs  are the clear front-runner for catcher Russell Martin. That is according to executives that are involved in the bidding for Martin. The believed price is in the $64 M over four years range. That $16 M per year price is around the estimates that we have heard for Martin, though he was said to be seeking a five-year deal.

Update 8:35 AM: Rosenthal added late last night that the Blue Jays shouldn’t be counted out just yet because they were said to be going after Victor Martinez and were willing to spend the money to get him away from the Tigers. Martinez hasn’t been a full-time catcher since 2010, so he would have filled a different need for the Blue Jays, but we have heard often that they are one of the teams in the mix for Martin. It could be that Martinez was their main target and now they may move on to Martin, so don’t count the Cubs as a done deal yet.


John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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The Blue Jays have agreed to a deal with catcher Russell Martin, Peter Gammons reports (Twitter link). The contract is for five years (according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman) and $82MM (via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal).


At this point with the understanding that Crivelli has even better pitch framing skills than Martin and over all is better offensively, I’d take him over Martin at a 15 million savings if that money is used to upgrade pitching. I’d like to get a true number 4 hitter in the line-up. What could Cutch do if they didn’t pitch “around” him?


You are a Major League Baseball pitcher: who would have be to hitting 4th in order for you to decide that giving the best hitter in the National League something fat to hit is a good idea?


There’s not many choices. If we had someone who hit .285 with 30 hrs it would give them a little to think about.


There’s like 4 or 5 guys in all of baseball who fit that bill. Good luck acquiring any of them


Close, Steve. Last year there were seven in all of Major League Baseball.


As one who was solidly in favor of going 4/$60 for Martin due to the lack of alternatives, I find myself remarkably calmed now that Neal acquired Cervelli. I don’t think Cervelli is going to give the Bucs everything Martin did, but it’s close enough for rock n roll provided Bucs improve at SP, Pen, 1b – all of which are now possible with the $ savings. I have little doubt Cervelli will be a capable starter if he doesn’t get more concussions.

The only mild complain I could register is that I think Rene Rivera would’ve been a slightly better acquisition, but can’t have everything. I’m liking Cervelli more and more as I read Yankee fan complaints about the deal.

William Wallace

No problem not signing Martin if at the end of the free agency period we can look at this team and say it is better then it was when the season ended. We all know the weaknesses and now the plan should be to enhance this team.


Agreed. While Martin’s loss will be felt, if you had to pick a position to lose out on, it would probably be catcher (unless you have guys that absolutely can’t throw out anybody and other teams run wild on you.) Offense isn’t expected from catchers, so the drop-off from Martin to his replacement won’t be felt as much, if the increases are felt elsewhere.

To me, the biggest concern this off-season, (that isn’t getting much airtime) is that all indications are the Pirates are handing the 3rd base job to Josh Harrison without any kind of back-up plan for failure or injury.

I get it, Harrison has earned the right to the job, but I’m not totally confident that he continues to play like a starter. And, with the Pirates having no 3rd baseman prospects sitting in the minors, it leaves a very big hole if he struggles. This will only be intensified if the Pirates part with Alvarez.


I’m on board with your general point re: 3B depth (although starting pitching is, was, and will be the biggest concern of the winter). I think it would make sense for the team to spend decent money ($2-5m) on a backup infielder that would be expected to get 300 AB or so.

Otherwise Pedro is the answer, although there’s no blueprint to what Alvarez is and/or will be dealing with regarding the throws to 1B. No reason not to see if it goes away as quickly as it came, but also not something you want to bank on, obviously.

Kenny Moore

If the Cubs want to give him a 4 or 5 year deal so be it. I think its a mistake doing anything over 3 but his play will be missed. Teams had a field day stealing base after base before Martin came but he shut that mess down from day 1 plus signing AJ back won’t help in that department either. I fully expected Martin to go but I just did not want him going to anyone in the Central. I don’t know where the Pirates turn next to replace him or even if they will make a move but I don’t like the idea of having two back ups trying to replace Martins production.


I could easily see a scenario where the Cubs don’t really want Martin and will wait for Weiters next year – meantime driving up Martin’s price to the Pirates. It’s a tactic Theo used in the AL East for years.

S Brooks

But I wonder if the executives he’s up against in this negotiation are too sharp for that. Anthopoulos is super-conservative when it comes to free agency, and he’s publicly stated he would strike quickly for the right piece but wouldn’t allow the Jays to get in a bidding war. Friedman is not falling for that, he knows he’s got as good a shot at Wieters as the Cubs will. Plus, he’s hired a quant guy as GM. And Huntington has already put Plan B in place, and has other needs to fill. In fact, the only guy among the four who has a history of giving out questionable free agent contracts is Theo himself: Crawford, Lackey, Dice-K, I’m sure I’m forgetting others…


That 5th year always seemed to be a stretch for me, given what we know about the execs you just cited. Looks like that is proving to be true.

Now to see if one of them blinks.


Ha, well there’s our answer.


That’d be genius haha. I’m not even mad
I’m just impressed.


Any smart player would take 1.5-2.0 less per year just knowing that you have zero chance of winning with the cubs. The pirates and dodgers have a chance. If 4-64 is the cubs offer, a 4-60 should be enough to keep him here. I offer him 4-55 with 2 million bonus for each year he makes the all star game and another million for each year he has at least 500 plate appearances. If money motivates him, lets keep him motivated, it gives him the opportunity to make 68 over 4, and at least 55 guaranteed.

Ian Rothermund

On principle, I agree with you. However, I don’t feel that at this particular stage in his career, that incentives are something he would be looking for. In the end, I don’t necessarily blame him for taking the money if that is his choosing. I just don’t get the idea of siding with the Cubs are their point in development. They’re basically shaping up to look like the Pirates from 3 or so years ago in ’15; they’re not a contender. As the key catcher in free agency, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t capitalize on a bigger market team that actually has the opportunity to win. I feel like this may be a very early stated prediction as far as a front runner is concerned. If their initial offer is that high compared to other teams, it’s likely due to their desperation. I’m sure the negotiations still have a ways to go.


The difference between the Cubs and the Pirates of three years ago is that the Cubs have money and the Pirates didn’t and still don’t.

Ian Rothermund

Well, this is obvious, however, it clearly wasn’t enough.


Theo and the rest of that front office are going to go fucking nuts with money this offseason.

Watch for the Cubs to turn into division champs/WC contenders next year.


Don’t hold your breath or bet your retirement money.


The cubs could be damn good if they get lester and martin. Plus they have a lot of MI depth to deal from for another pitcher.


They won’t go all in this year with a lineup full of rookies.


And even if they did, count me as one who is skeptical of all those high beta young guys putting it together over the winter.

At one point in their last series with the Pirates, five of the Cubs eight position players in the lineup were striking out over 30% of the time. They were not a good baseball team. Period.

It’s going to take a few seasons for them to be a serious contender.


I hope the cubbies get martin.. he’ll revert back to his 210 avg of 2012 once he gets paid


Maybe not to 2012 numbers rick, but his 2013 numbers are probably more predictive for 2015. After that it is a real crap shoot.

Ian Rothermund

I completely agree with that statement. The idea that any of his intended salary comes from the prediction that he’ll continue to hit .290 over the next several years is a fallacy. The simple fact is, for Russ, you need to be prepared to pay 70 million dollars for defense, defense, and more defense. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, I’d shy away.


Ya.. for sure.. too many beers and i’ve excepted the fact he’s a goner, annoying as it is.. just gonna miss everything he brought to the game


Well, if the Pirates get another SP ( or 2 ) and do something to really stabilize 1st base, it will not be the disaster a lot of the local media seems to think it will be.


Sounds like a figure leaked by an agent trying to get a 5th year added to the deal somewhere. He was never seriously coming back here, this ownership group has no plans to spend the money required to keep him here. Remember all we are looking for here is someone to frame pitches. The dynamic duo we currently have behind the plate can do that at a fraction of the cost of Russ Martin.


Well then if the “agent” wants to be a smart ass, lets give him 5-64 lol


But they don’t supply the offense Russ would.


I wouldn’t count on Martin’s offense being as good as it was this past year ever again. It was a career-year; by definition, guys don’t have them every single year.

He’ll probably be good, though.


Why don’t we just have Barmes strap on the tools of ignorance, we can save even more money to have an awful catcher


But barmes makes more than Cervelli


I’m pretty sure that’s what he is saying. His post seems to be full of cynicism and sarcasm.


Interesting… where are the posts?


The bucco joe post that piratesfever replied to.

tim m

we know the pirates would have preferred a three yr deal but it seems like they could actually put something together if these numbers are correct, how much did Russ like pittsburgh? or was it all an act and he wants the most money he can get.


how much did Russ like pittsburgh?

I’m guessing not as much as he likes money.


I’m not sure why people think that playing in Pittsburgh (or insert any city name here) is so wonderful that guys are willing to leave money on the table to play here. Especially a guy who is getting his one huge payday like Martin is going to get. These guys have friends on every single team. It’s not like he’s going to go somewhere where he doesn’t know anybody. Also, he had success on successful teams in LA and NY, yet he chose to come to Pittsburgh, why? Most money on table at that time.


I do think winning may have a say in some players decision.

Joe Nastasi

Hey left a winning organization with a 200M payroll to come to a team with a low payroll that just had their 20th straight losing season because the Pirates offered a couple of extra Million. Maybe some players but not Martin.

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