Mitchell pointed out in the comments that Russell Martin had to be a pretty happy guy because Joe Girardi didn’t pinch-hit for him last night. Martin rewarded his manager’s faith with a RBI single that turned out to be the difference in a great win. I’ve been thinking about Martin and his struggles a lot during the All-Star break and I’ve decided that ultimately they have provided the Yankees with a win-win situation. Let me explain.

There’s no denying that Martin was terrible in the first half. His batting line of .179/.300/.385 is pathetic and his defense wasn’t what we were used to seeing. Yet, despite that awful performance, the Yankees entered the break with the best record in baseball. That’s a strange “win”, but a win nonetheless in my mind.

And the reason for that is because Martin is going to be a free agent after this season. Unless he has a monster second half (which would obviously be a win for the Yankees) his value will be severely depressed when he hits the market after the season. Entering 2012, the Yankees were hoping that Austin Romine would progress enough that the Yankees could hand over the catching duties to him in 2013. Since Romine only got into a game for the first time yesterday, that isn’t going to happen.

So, the Yankees are going to need a full-time catcher in 2013 and they should have plenty of leverage with Martin. They could offer him arbitration, which would allow Martin to re-establish his free agent value and the Yankees to avoid locking in additional payroll for 2014. Or, they could try and sign him to a favorable two-year deal, keeping his impact to the 2014 payroll to a minimum. Either way, they can break in Romine in 2013.

That’s a win-win in my book.