The Pittsburgh Pirates were reportedly hot in pursuit of former Yankees catcher Russell Martin, and for two years and $17 million, Martin is now a Pirate.
Martin, who will turn 30 this coming February, made $7.5 million with the Yankees this past season, his second with the club. In 133 games, he had 21 homers and a .211/.311/.403 line, providing 2.2 wins above replacement for New York. That line doesn't tell the whole story though, as Martin threw out 24% of attempted basestealers, about middle of the pack among all qualified catchers in the league. However, it was better than the 17.6% kill rate posted by Michael McKenry and the 6%now-departed Rod Barajas of the Pirates.
Here's why I'm not crazy about this, though. $8.5 million is a good chunk of money, especially for a Pirates team that had a payroll of just shy of $52 million in 2012, and already had over $28 million committed before arbitration raises for 2013. OK, the Pirates have a starting catcher that is a mild upgrade over McKenry. All it cost them was….$8 million more than the pre-arb McKenry. That money could have gone a long way towards fixing other problems in Pittsburgh, like the starting rotation that's a giant question mark after veterans AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez. Unless the Pirates are going to try to fix their rotation cheaply (which they may be doing after the acquistions of Vin Mazzaro and Zach Stewart), it seems to me that the money that went to Martin could have definitely been spent more wisely.