Toronto Blue Jays and Canadian Russell Martin Agree to Deal
Sep 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) hits a three run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays continued their busy offseason Monday, by signing Canadian Russell Martin to a five year $82 million deal. Last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Martin had a .290 batting average with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs, but he has great defensive talents which is why so many teams were pursuing him. The Chicago Cubs were seen as the front-runners for the Canadian’s services, but in the end the Blue Jays outbid them.
This deal is the second largest contract the Blue Jays have ever given a player – Vernon Wells deal was the largest contract at seven years $126 million. It is also the largest free-agent contract Alex Anthopoulos has given out, beating Melky Cabrera‘s two year $16 million contract.
Martin in considered an elite catcher that has great defence and a sterling reputation for being a vocal leader in the clubhouse. It kind of sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had previously talked about a culture change by bringing in better character players. The Blue Jays also gave up their first round pick to sign Martin, because the Pirates had extended Martin a qualifying offer.
Mar 19, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) talks with starting pitcher J.A. Happ (48) on the mound during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
With this signing it remains unclear what the Blue Jays plan to do with Dioner Navarro, who might be used as the DH and back up catcher unless the Blue Jays plan to use Josh Thole in that position instead. It could be possible to see Navarro and pitcher J.A. Happ on the move, in order to improve other areas of the club. Happ has been garnering a lot of trade interest and it remains to be seen what the Blue Jays plans are for the left-handed pitcher, after they exercised his $6.7 club option for 2015.
The Blue Jays also still have to decide what their situation is with Cabrera, who is now listening to other offers. It remains unlikely that he returns, which means the Blue Jays will receive a draft pick if Cabrera signs elsewhere, because they extended a qualifying offer to the outfielder.
Aug 12, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (left) is tagged out in a run down between third base and home plate by Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
In other news, the Blue Jays announced a replacement for Kevin Seitzer, confirming that Brook Jacoby will become the team’s new hitting coach. The former all-star was the hitting coach for the Cincinnati Reds from 2007 to 2013. Seitzer left to join the Atlanta Braves.
It does not look like the Blue Jays are done making moves this offseason, but it will be interesting to see how much money the team will be allowed to work with.
What do you think of the deal? Should the team have used the money elsewhere or is this a step in the right direction?