The longer Andy Pettitte holds out the higher Russell Martin's stock rises (Image: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees Rumors: Martin in demand, Victorino linked to Bombers as Pettitte delays

The New York Yankees are in a holding pattern where it concerns making a free agent move as they await word from Andy Pettitte of his intentions for the 2013 season. The lefty told YES Network personality Jack Curry Monday via text message that a ‘decision is coming soon‘. In the meantime, Russell Martin‘s stock continues to grow and the Yankees were linked to outfielder Shane Victorino as an option to fill the shoes of departing right fielder Nick Swisher.

The Yankees are concerned with making moves before nailing down Pettitte because if he doesn’t return the team will surely look to the free agent or trade market to fill the void. If Pettitte retires for good that would leave the Yankees with David Phelps and Ivan Nova as the favorites for the fourth and fifth starter roles, something I wouldn’t be too comfortable with and I’m guessing the Yankees may feel the same way.

Martin, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, is now being pursued by the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Seattle Mariners, in addition to being linked to the Texas Rangers. Martin turned down a three-year deal last offseason worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million, and now he seems smart to have done so even after a down season. He was able to nail down a one-year deal for $7.5 million in 2012 and it is reported that he seeks a three-year contract beginning with the 2013 season which will be north of the $20 million mark.

Three years is probably not a sticking point with the Yankees as much as the potential for a growing average annual value of the contract is. Should Martin get the three-years, it will easily reach and likely surpass the $20 million mark which would place his average annual value in and around $7 million or more. I’m guessing it is going to take an average of $8-9 million per season especially with the Rangers in the mix.

The Yankees have their top prospect Gary Sanchez climbing the ladder and he could be ready for the 2015 season if he maintains pace. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a problem if Sanchez waited until the 2016 season to take over the starting backstop role in the Bronx as he will be just 23-years-old throughout that season. Martin’s potential signing with the Yankees will be the team’s first big decision that has an impact on their desire to lower team payroll. That said, this would not be a huge contract and one the Yankees could certainly work around in the future.

Mike Napoli is available, but doesn’t fit the profile the Yankees are looking for; a defensive minded catcher who is not a detriment with the bat. Napoli is far from a defensive orientated catcher. A.J. Pierzynski would be another option and it may be easier to sign him to a two-year deal than Martin. Pierzynski is 36-years-old so the risk of his aging body is a factor, despite his best offensive season (.278./326/.501 with 27 HR and 77 RBI) just wrapping up.

The Yankees could sign Martin for three years and if they feel Sanchez is ready in 2015, then they could split time between the two. This would allow Sanchez time to acclimate to the Majors and the Yankees could try to move Martin before the trade deadline in July 2015 if Sanchez is thriving, or allow Martin to finish up the deal. In the end the Yankees will probably do what it takes to nab Martin, but it may have a larger financial impact on other moves down the road than they originally suspected.

Victorino in pinstripes?

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports linked Victorino to the Yankees and six other teams Monday. Victorino was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies at the deadline last season to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had an off year, hitting just .245 with a .667 OPS. Rosenthal mentions that the center fielder would be amiable to a corner spot for the right team.

Victorino would cost the Yankees more money and time than would Ichiro Suzuki, who the Yankees feel they can re-sign. Again, the team is looking for cost conscious alternatives for this season and even 2014 as they have Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott who could be ready to be a part of the Yankees outfield by 2015. Heyman notes that some of the teams are willing to go three years for Victorino’s services, making it unlikely he will land in the Bronx.

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