17 Jan 2012
Arbitration figures are in and Russell Martin has asked for $8.2 million and the Yankees have offered $7 million. It seems like there would be common ground around $7.5 million or so, but should the Yankees try and lock him up for longer than that?
The case for doing so is obvious. Martin was was good as a Yankee. He was streaky with the bat, but solid on defense. Fangraphs had him at 3.1 wins above replacement, which ties him for 10th in MLB. He will turn 29 before the season starts, so his age is not a factor in the immediate future. And, with Montero in Seattle, the Yankees don’t have an obvious replacement in their system. Cervelli seems to be a backup at best and Romine should be allowed to get more than 15 AB’s at AAA.
But, he has been brittle in the past and while he hit 18 homers, his overall line of .237/.324/.408 isn’t something to get too excited about. Yes, his defense is very good, but will it be that much better than Romine’s could be in 2013? The Yankees could simply settle their arbitration case with him this year and then let him go to free agency after the season and make their decision then.
It seems to me that the best course of action is to try and lock Martin in for a two-year deal now. The Yankees could offer two years and $17 million or so. That keeps Martin off the 2014 payroll, but also allows Austin Romine a chance to break into the bigs slowly. Now that he is the catcher of the future, Romine should get a full season at AAA with a promotion to the bigs in September. The Yankees could move Cervelli next offseason, when he is arbitration eligible, and use Romine as Martin’s backup for one season like they did with Jorge and Girardi all those years ago.
The question is, would Martin accept that offer?