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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Pirates One of Four Teams Still in the Mix For Russell Martin

Bruce Levine reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Toronto Blue Jays are all still in on free agent catcher Russell Martin, and that all four teams believe he is a major difference maker.

The Pirates just added Francisco Cervelli, so it appears they’re setting up for a scenario where they will be without Martin. Based on his asking price, and the fact that the Cubs and Dodgers are in the bidding, I think it’s likely that he will end up outside of their price range. Jon Heyman pointed out the similarities between this situation, and what they did last year with Edinson Volquez and A.J. Burnett.

As I wrote tonight, I don’t see Martin coming back to the Pirates. I think Cervelli and Chris Stewart will be the catchers, with Tony Sanchez serving as the number three catcher. But that’s assuming that Martin is out of the four-year, $60 M price range that I think the Pirates could afford. It would be interesting to see what happens if the other teams don’t meet his demands. I just don’t think that’s likely.

If the Pirates don’t sign Martin, they’ll have a lot of money left over to upgrade at other positions. And as I wrote Tuesday night, they will need to do just that in order to make up for the value they’d lose by going from Martin to Cervelli/Stewart.

UPDATE 1:21 PM: Ken Rosenthal also says they’re still in on Martin, and that Cervelli is insurance if Martin signs elsewhere.

My earlier comments about Martin signing with the Pirates still stand. It seems unlikely to happen with the asking price and the other teams involved.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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The bottom line is that NH is playing this all out about as well as can be done under the circumstances.


IMO, Martin is not gone yet, the Cubs might want him, but they are weighing his price vs the price of a very high end pitcher, IMO, they won’t do both. The Dodgers have Ellis and he is Martin without the hitting to the Dodgers and he is God to their pitchers and Friedman is Huntington west. IMO, it could come down to the Jays and Pirates, the Jays are dumb enough to go more years.


Think the Cubs could get both a pitcher and Martin if they want. I just do not want the Bucs to go 5 years on him as 4 is pushing it with his age and a full year of leg troubles already. Not good for a catcher. This trade looks better for the Bucs if the can get Martin for 3-4 years. Can trade Stewart now and trade Martin when and if Diaz is the real deal or McQuire arrives.

R Edwards

Face it, Martin is gone – Pirates will not be able to match what the Cubs or Dodgers will offer him. That is why they made the dubious Cervelli trade.


May not be so dubious. Similar comments were made about Martin when he was signed as a free agent 2 years ago.

R Edwards

Cervelli is not even remotely close to the player that Martin was and is – and Martin had a number of pretty good seasons under his belt before coming to the Pirates. Cervelli has never been more than a backup for the vast majority of his career.


Not saying Cervelli was the same player or ever will be as Martin. Martin was not looked upon as a quality signing when we got him. Turned out much better than ever expected. Yankee pitchers seem to love Cervelli, has better framing stats than Martin, not as good an arm. Injuries and weird ones at that have derailed Cervelli. All I am saying is that it is not such a horrible cost to get a bridge to Diaz or McGuire at the least and if he can stay healthy for once, might turn out more than ok for the Bucs. I just do not want the Pirates to spend mega money on a catcher that will be really good for us for 2 years, ok for 1 then most likely dead weight for 2 if the cost is 5 years of guaranteed money. 30 million to a catcher not contributing.


I think framing is overrated. What concerns me is his arm. We’ve seen here before Martin what happens if your catcher can’t control the running game.

Lukas Sutton

There is a LARGE difference between “cant control the running game” and Cervelli. He is a league average catcher at throwing runners out. That is a step down from Martin no doubt, but to act like he cant control the running game is statistical false since he is average in comparison. Pitch framing may be overrated, but it also may be a huge unknown value that teams ignore for no reason. For what its worth, pitchers seem to enjoy Cervelli calling games.

Jay Hart

Yeah, yeah…. the Pirates are still in. I’m not holding my breath. Russell’s not worth the risk beyond 2-or-3 years with the Bucs… and he’s going for 4 or 5. I don’t think the Cubs do… but the Dodgers or Jays will do the longer-term, IMO.

Daryl Restly

Why not take some of that leftover money and extend McCutchen a few more years out?


i can’t imagine these 2014 dollars really affect 2019 and 2020 that much, but who knows.


Unfortunate, but true.

I’m by no means a “Nuttings cheap” guy, but if we haven’t seen any savings from the 2009-11 years put back into payroll – and we haven’t – then there’s little chance we’ll see a few million from last year used that way.


Actually, we saw Martin signed for what was thought crazy money as a Free Agent, they extended McCutchen, Marte, Tabata(did not work out so good) and have been trying to extend Polonco. Offering Martin prob 3 years to 4 years at 15 million or so a year. If Martin gets 80 million over 5 years, it would be a horrible contract for teams mid market or below like the Pirates, KC, Cleveland, Reds, St Louis, etc. Worth the money in 2015 and 2016 for sure but we are talking about a catcher with a full year of leg issues under his belt. He is 32. The legs will get worse, not better as he is a catcher and gets beat up every game. No knock on Martin but is the nature of the beast. 3-4 years from now, he will not be the same guy he is now. Will be a dead weight contract in the 5th year. 15 million will buy a nice player in 4 years and want that as opposed to a catcher who did good but can’t play any more. That is the problem with a 5 year 80 million contract and how it affects 5 years from now.


A lot of what your saying isn’t accurate. The draft money is capped. doesn’t matter who you are. 2 years for $17 million wasn’t considered crazy money by anyone. The Dominican Acadamy excuse is years old now. And it didn’t cost all that much to begin with. I’m still waiting for the 1st person to suggest that the Pirates sign a $20 million per year guy for 10 years. Theres a lot of room between top shelf and bargain basement. And you seem to be one of the ones that misses that point. If going for it one year results in years of bad baseball your ORG wasn’t all that good to begin with. I find it hilarious that the people that think the minors are brimming with talent predict doom for years if one or 2 pieces of that deep minors is traded. Can’t have it both ways.


Huntington said today that money not spent goes back into baseball operations, no detail on what that means.


Yeah, so I’ve heard. I don’t think Nutting is literally stuffing his pockets with pure profits, but it isn’t any secret that he’s used them to pay down his own debt.

And regardless, to the original point, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of past savings going back into the payroll.


Has gone into Dominican academy and guys like Polonco, Marte, Henson, etc. Draft picks signings up to the max of bonuses. Spending big bucks on older guys is what got the Pirates into trouble in the 90’s Trading young guys for older guys and signing Free agents that even if they pan out only last a couple of years. Several of the huge names that signed big deals the last few years have stunk. Fielder, Pujols, The Phillies Pitchers… not so much greatness came from the money. I like what they have done the last few years and now we are seeing things panning out.



Thanks for trotting out the party line from the past seven years. Is that you, Frank?


No, not Frank, or Neil, or Nutting. Just being objective. Look at the league these days. Big contract guys are not the big stars anymore. Best pitcher in the playoffs? Baumgarner. Big money guys?? Nowhere to be seen. Have been a fan since I was old enough to watch games in the 60’s. Have seen great teams here. Have seen AA teams wearing Major League Uniforms. Saw the Pirates not spend on Latin players or on the draft and that devastated them. I want the Pirates to become the Cardinals. What they do does not happen overnight. They develop pitching themselves and pick up a piece or two to augment. They do not trade many prospects. They do trade guys on the Major League roster when they have someone ready to take over and get more bang for the buck in return then. Endured to many Operation shutdowns, Joggin George Hendricks, and other older guys that everyone gushed over when we got them. Many started ok then flamed out. Saw to many ugly years to throw it all away to go after 1 series and then have the 90’s again.


That has absolutely nothing to do with my post in which you responded to, you realize that, right?

Great rant, though.


Well, Considering what you said about the party line, I think I answered you. You just have a different view and more than ok with that. I just happen to like what the team has done since Huntington has taken over. Many horrible baseball decisions made for about 25 years prior. Fun to talk about the team again as opposed to the heck are these guys and will any one of them stick to the wall.


IMO, zero chance Cutch gives a hometown discount, despite his saying he wants to retire a Pirate. His age 32-35 seasons should be worth $100 mill minimum. Pirates would be fools to commit to anything near that, especially with Meadows, et.al. knocking on door before 2018 and Marte/Polanco here through 2020.

James Selario

Agree- Also, no chance Cole gives up any FA years- He is a Boras client and Boras strongly discourages his guys to do this.

Jay Hart

Exactly. Boras clients do not stay with the teams they’re with. We’re going to have to deal with this soon enough at the end of next season with Pedro.


I know it’s not going to happen but I would love to see 2 extensions Cole & Polonco

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