The Toronto Blue Jays will sign catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal, reports Peter Gammons, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The Cubs were reportedly favorites to sign Martin as of last night, reported Rosenthal, and a six-year, $64 million deal was going to be the range in which he was going to sign. It looks as if the Blue Jays really wanted to sign Martin, as they offered him a five-year deal worth almost $20 million more than the rumored contract for him. I mentioned to a colleague of mine at the beginning of the offseason that the Blue Jays were going to be a favorite for Martin.
Martin, 32 next season, will be receiving a five-year deal, a deal that appears to be a major commitment for Toronto. However, he posted really good numbers for Pittsburgh last season, both offensively and defensively. The three-time All-Star had just concluded a two-year, $15 million deal with the Pirates.
Now, Martin will be making an average of $16.4 million per season, and while the Pirates said they would try all they could to make room to accommodate Martin in 2015 and beyond, a five-year, $82 million deal definitely seems to be outside their reach. It is surprising that the Cubs did not go out and sign Martin, but again, for $82 million, it might just be the right non-move for them. Martin is still good--really good, in fact--but it is just hard to know where he will be in five seasons.
Martin is the first top free agent to sign this offseason, and now he will head back home to Canada to play for the only Canadian baseball team. Martin was born in Ontario and went to High School in Montreal before being drafted by the Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2002 MLB Draft.
On the season, Martin hit .290/.402/.430 with 11 homers and 67 runs batted in over 460 plate appearances. His .832 OPS is definitely a respectable one. Overall, Blue Jays catching hit for a .659 OPS, which ranked 22nd in the majors. Martin's OPS alone would put the Blue Jays second overall in catchers OPS. Behind Martin last year, the Pirates ranked third in the majors in OPS.