Monday, November 26, 2012

Russell Martin Joins The Waiting Game

(Pictured: Not Russell or Ichiro)

Well it looks like Ichiro isn't alone in holding out for the tall, handsome Yankees to ask him to dance before settling on another suitor.  George King of The Post had the deets on Russell Martin also being sweet on the Yankees and reportedly being willing to wait his turn for a contract offer while they sort through things with Mo and Andy before pursuing other options.

This is an interesting situation for both Martin and the Yankees.  On the one hand, Martin is coming off a 1-year deal where he didn't hit the ball particularly well after turning down a 3-year offer from the Yanks before the season, which does reduce his negotiating leverage with the team.  On the other hand, he still hit 21 HR, played solid defense, and is still just 30 years old in a year where the catching market is thin and other teams that can spend with the Yankees are in need.  Martin is likely going to command at least $8 mil a year, and possibly more.

Martin's declaration that he is willing to wait is a clear sign that his first preference, like Ichiro's, is to come back and play for the Yankees, an option that I think the Yankees would be more than happy to oblige given the rest of the available catching market and their own shortage of viable internal options.  But with Mo and Andy still up in the air and still a week at least away from signing new deals, that does leave the door wide open for teams to swing in and offer Martin more than the 3 years/$21-24 million that the Yankees would prefer to pay.  Martin's heart may be in New York, but it'd be hard to turn down an offer for 3/$30 mil or even 4/$40 mil.

Part of me wonders if this is an intentional tactic by the Yankees to make these guys wait, not just because Mo and Andy are the priorities (as they should be) but because they know Ichiro and Russ want to come back to New York and know that as they wait and other teams fill their needs with different players, the Yankees' odds of being able to bring them back on deals more benefiting the team than the players increases.  If that's the strategic move, then it's a bold one and one that could help them control costs, but it's also very risky with Martin.  The Yankees would be somewhat screwed without him at catcher, and they have to know that.  With things not moving quickly with Mo and Andy, what's the harm in getting a deal done with a player who wants to come back and because of that could probably be had for a team-friendly price?

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