A deal that almost was: Cervelli for Martin

Welcome home, Mo
Olney: Yankees are talking to Carl Crawford

As we celebrate Mariano Rivera’s inevitable homecoming, here’s something juicy for your late-night dreams: The Yankees, reports Michael S. Schmidt of The Times, were on the verge of trading Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers in exchange for Russell Martin. The Yankees and Dodgers exchanged medicals on Wednesday, but the deal seemed to slip away shortly before the non-tender deadline at midnight. The Dodgers eventually decided to drop Martin, and the Yanks could take a flier on him without surrendering Cervelli — my favorite Yankee punching bag.

Martin would be an intriguing addition to the Yanks. As a 24-year-old in 2007, he hit .293/.374/.469 with 19 home runs, but health problems have slowed him down of late. Due to an issue with his hip labrum, he played just 97 games in 2010 and hit only .248/.347/.332. Still, his walk rate has been above 10.8 percent for the past four years, and when healthy, he’s a very solid defensive catcher. He’d definitely be an upgrade over Cervelli, and he’s one upon whom the Yanks will probably keep an eye this month.

Welcome home, Mo
Olney: Yankees are talking to Carl Crawford
  • Nick!

    If we don’t get Lee but still manage to dump Cervelli somewhere so I’ll never see him in pinstripes again, I’ll consider the offseason a success

    • Ellis

      Dude, Cervelli’s a 24-year-old catcher who just put up a higher OBP than A-Rod, Jeter, Thames, Granderson, Posada, and Swisher in 2010.

      Why do you dislike him so dramatically? Most catchers can’t get on base at all, and Cervelli should be more of a backup catcher in 2011.

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        Because from June through August he had 149 plate appearances and hit .203/.274/.248. Don’t delude yourself into thinking he’s something he’s not because of a couple BABIP-fueled months. He hits for zero power and played terrible defense in 2010. That outweighs what he did in April and September.

        • Ellis


        • Mister Delaware

          Aren’t you sort of doing the same in reverse by ignoring that his BABIP was .243 over the stretch you mentioned? .316 for the season is > than average, but its not some zany outlier.

      • Mike Ri

        Cervelli can’t hit or throw anyone out ! He’s useless

  • Jimmy McNulty

    The Yankees tend to get lazy on the margins…the third catcher on the roster is about as marginal as it gets. My (realistic) dream offseason is: Yankees get Lee, bring back Pettitte, Mo, Jeter…then end up picking up Martin and one of Diaz and Hairston. I doubt they’ll sign Jenks, but since Frankie sucks major ass, they may actually make this move for a few reasons:

    Frankie sucks major ass, Martin isn’t much better but at least he can take a pitch deep.
    Posada may be only able to catch 40 games or so, and likely won’t be back next year.
    Montero may not be able to catch long term, and Romine’s slump has a lot of people wondering about him…who knows about Murphy and Manquito.

    Because of this I feel the Yankees may end up getting Russell Martin, whereas they seem to don’t make the obvious small upgrade moves that they have in the past.

    • Hughesus Christo

      How many teams have MLB starters chilling on the bench?

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        so tell martin that when he is healthy he competes for the starting gig. tell him that youre not confiedent in cervelli long term and you like what he’s done and that you know posada can’t catch a full season and that montero won’t be ready and able to catch a full season. you tell him that once he is healthy he will be given the chance to prove he can play while posada slides into dh and that when montero comes up him posada and monstero can all slip and slide between c and dh. do it. he is a huge upgrade and if he has a chance to start then why wouldnt he sign up for a shot at a ws? having two starting caliber catchers is great. and from his standpoint wouldnt he be willing to sign a one yr deal or 1 yr with an option to prove he is healthy and reestablish value and get another payday when he is 26? why not do it while also chasing a ws?

        • Mister Delaware

          Isn’t it easier to reestablish value with a starting job and 450+ PAs handed to you? There are plenty of teams, probably some contenders, than can offer it. And going to the AL East and Yankee Stadium as a righty isn’t exactly a ticket to Bigoffensivenumbersville.

    • Plank

      Montero being major league ready on opening day is no sure thing. Posada’s availability to catch next season is no sure thing. Think Matsui 2009.

      If they bring in another catcher, it may not be the third stringer, it could be the backup or starter (until Montero comes up.)

      • Kyle Litke

        Montero being able to hold his own once he starts playing in the majors is no sure thing, but I’m not sure how he isn’t major league ready. I mean, after a slow start, he hit the crap out of the ball in AAA and really has nothing else to prove offensively. As for defensively, he may not be great, but if they know what he is defensively…if they’re talking about making him the starting catcher, they probably don’t think it’s a huge concern.

        I think he’s definitely major league ready now, as in a team can and should call him up. Now, whether or not he can prove them right, we’ll see.

  • Gonzo

    I would imagine he could get better offers, but I would love to see the Yanks make a run at Martin. The odds of dealing Cervelli might have went up, if only slightly. I am not even a Cervelli hater, but that switch is too good.

    /can’t sleep

  • mbonzo

    I kinda like Cervelli as the backup catcher. I know I’m higher on him than most people but he’s an upgrade from the backup catchers seriously available. I like his OBP and I think that he’s a better defensive catcher than his numbers showed this season (his career numbers, through the minors and majors pre-2010 were good). Someone mentioned he’d be the 3rd catcher which is not true, I can’t see Posada catching at all unless under an emergency, and Romine will hopefully be in AAA this year instead of in the majors as a backup. This would be a sell high for the Yankees with his offensive year, but if all you’re gonna get is an inconsistent player like Martin I’d pass.

    • mbonzo

      I should clear this up. I don’t like Martin because I don’t trust his health which looks like its causing his numbers to decline. He’s getting expensive, and I don’t see how he could look to improve as a player as a backup catcher on a team loaded with catching depth for the next few years. 2010 Martin was better than 2010 Cervelli but I think Martin’s numbers are headed down and Cervelli’s numbers are headed up. Martin is a risk I don’t want to take.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Martin’s #’s are headed down and Cervelli’s up. This is an argument that can be made at SS with the added caveat of $19M.

        I’d like to keep Cervelli if for no other reason than he keeps us strong in Venezuelan catchers.

  • Kyle Litke

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me going with what we’ve seen from the Yankees this year and in recent years. Martin really hasn’t hit well enough the past 2 years to justify a starting job, so you figure it’d be for the backup catcher spot. But man, unless the Dodgers were throwing in significant money (and why do that just to get Cervelli when you’re cutting Martin anyway?), the Yankees were really going to pay upwards of 6 million dollars for a backup catcher? I know it’d be great insurance in case of an injury or a failure from Montero, but if Montero works out like everyone hopes (and he’s hit well enough in the minors to give people good reason to think he’ll at least not be a liability), it’s an awful lot of money on a backup catcher in a year where they want to sign Lee. Lee, Pettitte, Mo, and Jeter at a pay cut probably results in a slight payroll increase this year…even more for Martin? Just seems high.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Not sure if Jeter will get a pay cut. This may be a sticky point for Captain pride.

      • Kyle Litke

        Well, he pretty much has to, but let me qualify by saying I mean a pay cut from the 20+ million he made last year. He could end up with the same average value when all is said and done, but I’d be absolutely shocked if the Yankees paid him 21 million+ over 3-4 years. There’s no reason for them to go there and he’s not justified in making it at this point.

    • Jay

      I agree. If he turns five million plus incentives the Yanks won’t pay that for a backup.

  • Mattchu12

    Martin might be much if the Yankees plan on starting Montero everyday and then using Posada to pick up the other games. If I remember correctly, the plan is for Posada to be the regular DH, but I don’t remember anyone saying he’d never catch a game again. I would think he’ll be the backup catcher of sorts just to keep him happy and why waste a spot on someone like Cervelli?

    The third catcher ought to be someone making the league minimum because he really should only play in the event that we have an emergency situation or are in a blow-out, and even in a blow-out, I’d rather have Montero out there getting reps and working with the pitchers.

    • mbonzo

      Can’t back this up officially but I’m pretty sure Posada is done catching. He just went through knee surgery in November and the Yankees are putting stock into him as their DH. It might not be the most physically demanding position, but I doubt they’ll risk that knee behind the plate for a couple games and at the same time give up defense in those games. He’s the teams 3rd catcher and should only catch in emergencies. Besides, the Yankees are going to need at least one defensively strong catcher to counter a running team, those catchers are usually your number 2s. Cervelli/Martin would get rusty as a 3rd catcher.

      I do like Martin because he’s shown he can play 3b, and the Yankees do need some help over there. He’s got good fielding numbers there too, but the numbers are so limited I don’t know if he’s reliable. I haven’t given up on Cervelli though. I know he’s the butt of everyone’s jokes but his minor league numbers up until he got f#%$ed up by the Rays in spring training were fairly awesome for his age. He’s never been a power guy, but hes got great plate discipline and was a good defensive catcher before 2010. In my eyes, he’s the positional Joba Chamberlain. He came up strong in the minor league system, but once he was run over in ST the Yankees bumped him around everywhere. They never let him develop at the AAA level and his status behind the plate in the majors has always been a question mark. Despite all this, he put up some of the best offensive numbers (minus power) for a back up catcher this year, and he’s only 24. He stepped up this year. The last time he caught more than 42 games was 2007. Everyone gives Romine a free pass for slumping in AA because of the increase in games behind the plate, but Cervelli was on the NY stage and people forget how old he is (only 2 years older than Romine).

      I feel the same way about Cervelli as I do Joba. The talent is there, I feel bad about how they were developed, but I don’t make that an excuse to limit my frustration with them.

      • Mattchu12

        I’m certainly not anti-Cervelli, I like him very much as a back-up catcher. The only problem is that unless you are right that there will be a decision made by Joe Girardi and the Front Office that Posada is done catching for good, I have to believe he’ll be the back-up guy. I can very easily see this going on:

        Montero – 100+ games behind the plate and 20+ games as the DH
        Posada – 30+ games behind the plate and 110+ games as the DH
        3rd Catcher – 10+ games behind the plate
        A-Rod – 20+ games as the DH

        • tomaconda

          Wha catches the other 21 games?

          • king of fruitless hypotheticals


          • Mattchu12

            The other twenty games would be spread amongst Montero, Posada, and the 3rd Catcher since the numbers i gave were minimum numbers.

  • Mr Moss

    Cervelli is rubbish….Yanks should go hard for Martin.If Montero’s skills behind the plate arent quite ready to catch most days.Martin will see plenty of game time

  • gargoyle

    Watch, Martin will end up in Boston.

    • Reggie C.

      I too think Martin signing with the RS could very well happen.

      Re-signing Varitek doesn’t do away the need to get another guy in there to catch at least half the games. Martin might prefer the NL, but the RS could likely offer the most money.

      • Kyle Litke

        Can Salty (I don’t have time to look up how to spell that bloody name) be sent back down though? They already signed Varitek and seem committed to making Salty their catcher. If they had gotten a Mauer, or McCann, or Martinez, or someone like that, okay, but I’m not sure if they’d risk losing Salty just to get Russell Martin.

  • JeffG

    Does Cervelli still have options? Could we stick him in AAA next year?

  • Reggie C.

    Not sure Russell Martin fits for the Yanks.

    If I understand the catching plan for the next couple years, it involves a main platoon of Cervelli and Montero, with Posada sprinkled in the mix every now and then to keep him happy. How does an established, albeit struggling ML’er in Russell Martin get playing time in that mix?

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      he replaces cervelli. it is evident. cervelli blows

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        This, Martin would catch when Montero or Posada doesn’t, or comes in as a defensive replacement. Plus since Martin was let go they should be able to get him on the cheap and pay him like a backup.

        • Clay Bellinger

          Why would Martin want that role though? A team with a top-notch prospect cather that appears to be ready and a primary DH who will steal some games at catcher doesn’t seem like an ideal fit for someone who’s used to starting.

          It would be an upgrade, but Cervelli isn’t anywhere near as bad as people make him out to be. In fact, he’d probrably make for one of the better backup C’s in the league.

          • jsbrendog (returns)

            because martin would get a chance to reestablish value by catching 60-100 games while also chasing a ring and a 1 yr deal with low pay and incentives for games caught with maybe a fair market level option allows him to do so, chase a ring, and get a big payday if he succeeds at 26 from someone else once montero and romine come up and establish their awesomeness. plus if martin becomes the allstar he was then trade him or someone else. he has a lot of good options coming here

            • Clay Bellinger

              If that’s his only option then I’m sure he’d take it, but I have to think someone else may offer him a starting gig or a role that guarantees more playing time.

              If he gets 100 games at catcher with the Yanks then something must have gone wrong – like Montero wasn’t ready or Jorge gets hurt.

            • Clay Bellinger

              …and what do you mean by 26? He’s 27 now and he’ll be 28 before the 2011 season starts.

    • Clay Bellinger

      Agreed. From Martin’s perspective, it’s not a great situation. If he gets some decent offers elsewhere I’d expect him to take one of those gigs.

  • bonestock94

    That would’ve kicked ass. I hope they still get him and manage to trade Cervelli for a good utility, 4th OF, or reliever.

  • Yank the Frank

    Hip problems for a catcher can’t be good. We do not need another DH.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    We keep throwing Montero into these scenarios…maybe the Martin interest was to ensure we had a plan B for our primary catcher. Its a position worth insuring.