Yankees allow Russell Martin to walk without making offer


If you were suspect of the New York Yankees true desire to get below the 2014 competitive balance threshold, you shouldn’t be any longer. The Yankees declined to make an official offer to departing catcher Russell Martin once they were told the terms of the Pittsburgh Pirates winning bid of two-years, $17 million.

Let’s not forget there was a lot of this going on with Russell Martin in 2012. (Image: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE)

Many, including myself, felt the Yankees would match any offer in the three-year, $8-9 million range per season, but we were very wrong.

Martin is coming off a very interesting season. He suffered through one of the worst stretches with the bat that anyone has endured over a full season hitting well below the Mendoza line for much of the season and not staying above it for good until Sep. 4. Martin had a very good final month of the season which was important to the Yankees as they held off the Baltimore Orioles en route to the AL East title.

Martin did blast 21 home runs this season (39 in his two seasons in the Bronx), but in the end general manager Brian Cashman must have felt that the dollar amount was too much for their future plans.

One would have to assume that Cashman has a fall back plan especially if they were unwilling to give Martin any type of raise (he earned $7.5 million in 2012).

The other “solid” free agent options behind the plate do not seem to be much cheaper than Martin. Mike Napoli made $9.4 million in 2012 and is seeking a multiyear deal, so he is out. A.J. Pierzynski is 36-years-old and coming off his finest offensive season (.278/.326/.501 with 27 homers and 77 RBI), but he won’t come cheap either ($6 million earned in 2012). If Martin can earn $8.5 million per season for his 2012 effort, how could Pierzynski take much less even considering the age difference?

The Yankees have shown in each of their dealings thus far (all one-year deals for Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera), as well as in their choice not to deal with Martin that next season’s desire to stay under the competitive balance threshold is a very real mandate.

The offseason became even more interesting after the Yankees showed their cards insofar as who will receive top dollar to be with the team in 2013 and beyond. Cashman has a plan — he wouldn’t sit idly by if he didn’t. But, what that plan entails is anyone’s guess.

Check back later today as we’ll delve into the options, or lack thereof, further.