Olney: Yanks going hard after Martin


The Yankees, says Buster Olney via Twitter, are going hard after Russell Martin. The club is “now taking an aggressive approach” in conversations with the recently non-tendered former Dodger backstop. Olney says the fight for Martin is between the Yankees and the Red Sox with others lurking on the periphery.

According to previous reports, the Yanks view Martin as a potential starting catcher which speaks volumes of the club’s assessment of Jesus Montero‘s defensive capabilities. Last Friday, the Bombers nearly traded Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers for Martin, but the deal fell through at the last minute. While his would be a small signing, Martin could play a decent role on the 2011 Yanks if he makes it to New York.


  1. djh says:

    They either don’t trust Montero’s D enough or they have a feeling that they won’t end up with both Lee and Pettitte and they want the option of dealing Montero for a top arm.

    • GermanYankee says:

      doesn’t mean anything. If they get Martin then they can keep Montero in AAA for 2-3 months. And I think Martin is the kinda guy you should get when u have the chance to.

      • JeffG says:

        It may not mean anything but you can’t say for sure. Its hard to argue with DJH’s point that they may see Montero more and more as a potential trade chip if potentially Lee/Pettitte falls through.

        • GermanYankee says:

          nothing’s for sure of course. If they get Lee than Montero will be a Yankee no matter what imo. I’m sure he’ll be traded if Lee signs elsewhere. I really don’t think that they trade Montero just because they sign Martin. Not at all. That would just mean that they have more time to prepare Montero for the show and don’t have to worry about Cervelli being a starter.

          • JeffG says:

            “I’m sure he’ll be traded if Lee signs elsewhere.” – Right, which was the second part of DJH’s argument. The idea that the Yanks might be preparing a contingency plan in the event Lee does not sign is a valid argument.

            To the first point you could argue either way. They don’t necessarily have to trade Montero to signal they are not comfortable with his defense to start next year in the bigs.

            And to be honest, I’m not sure they are counting on having Martin to start the season. Injury sounds pretty severe.

    • David says:

      Doesn’t at all mean that Montero will be traded. It could be Romine or Cervelli as part of a deal for a starter.

    • TJ says:

      Yep, agree. Montero is a Yankee Hype job that they already tried to unload. Yanks don’t trade away can’t miss talent very often.

    • LarryM.,Fl. says:

      djh, you could be correct but I believe that the Yanks have seen the Red Sox reload as Cashman indicated. With every win even the ones in April important that means a training period for Montero can not be tolerated.

      With the Yankees mandate to win every year it does rob the Yankee fan of watching the Jeter’s and Cano’s develope except the extraordianary.

      If Martin is signed and Montero is used as bait for trade, I believe his value has lessen just some thoughts.

  2. teddy says:

    they should not trade jesus.

    • Steve H says:

      If they are convinced that he cannot catch at the major league level but can trade him as a catcher, it’s something they have to consider. If the payoff is someone like Greinke (in a 3 way deal?) it might be worth it. And I love the Jesus.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      I’d trade him for Greinke in a heartbeat if Lee stays in Texas.

      • Steve H says:

        I’d actually rather get him if Lee does sign with NY and Pettitte retires.

        • FIPster Doofus says:

          That’s another scenario in which I’d be fine with using Montero to get Greinke. However, I am operating under the assumption that Pettitte will come back if Lee signs.

        • Craig says:

          F*ck Greinke. First of all, he doesn’t want to play in NY, he doesn’t think he can succeed in NY and he’s not the pitcher we saw in 2009. I know he’s still good, but not worth trading your No. 1 prospect for. Even if that No. 1 prospect is destined to become a behemoth DH for the majority of his career.

          • FIPster Doofus says:

            Greinke is fine with playing in New York –

            Also, one of the main perks of having a great prospect is that you can use that player as a centerpiece to acquire proven talent. Greinke is proven, elite talent.

          • Craig says:

            That was a knee jerk response. I didn’t need to drop the phantom F bomb. Everything else I said stands though. Montero + more is not worth Zack Greinke – a talented, yet suspect, option for the top of the Yankees rotation.

            • jersey says:

              yeah i definitely agree about greinke. the guys talent is unquestioned. greinke the pitcher is elite and the type of player you trade a montero for but greinke the person might not be… we all saw what happen with javy… i think something similiar could happen with greinke. could you imagine a man with social anxiety walking into fenway in the alcs to make a start with the yankees season on the line. i cant. considering that there also isnt another starting pitcher that would be available that i would trade montero for… if lee signs and pettite retires i think cash will try to put a romine and betances/brackman centered package for floyd. id love to get danks but i doubt hell be available.

        • Slugger27 says:

          if we can get greinke for only montero, i dont care who signs where or what our staff looks like, i’d do it

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        I wouldn’t. I was hesitant to trade Montero for Cliff Lee, I definitely wouldn’t trade him for a worse pitcher. It can be done for a package of lesser prospects. Lets stop being stupid here.

        • FIPster Doofus says:

          I don’t see how it’s stupid. It’s no less realistic than your proposal involving Hughes et al. I don’t think yours is a bad proposal, but the Yankees realistically aren’t going to trade Hughes.

        • Slugger27 says:

          well, greinke may be worse, but its only SLIGHTLY worse

          and 2 years of team control is a lot different than 2 months

          i think montero straight up for greinke would be a steal

  3. AndrewYF says:

    Or they just feel that Martin could contribute to the big league club, and there’s no such thing as too much depth at up-the-middle positions, and this allows them to not put all their eggs in the Montero basket, who is 21 years old. Plus, Cervelli sucks, and Martin is a clear upgrade. And last (and probably least, but still a small factor), this takes him away from the Red Sox, who have almost nothing at the position, major or minor leagues.

  4. Slugger27 says:

    i don’t think this deal means they don’t trust montero defensively or think of him as a starting catcher at the big league level. maybe they just believe he needs another half or full season at the AAA level to improve his skills.

    i think a lot of us are jumping to conclusions a little too quickly about how the yanks may feel about montero simply because they’re interested in signing martin. it may just be that they feel martin is undervalued in the marketplace and would be a perfect stopgap.

    • Steve H says:

      That’s certainly a valid point, but you have to wonder what they are telling Martin. I don’t expect him to sign here if he’s just going to keep Jesus’ spot warm until June, he’d most likely sign with the Sox in that scenario, who will not only pay him well, but can almost guarantee him more PT.

      • Slugger27 says:

        that’s a good point, but i just think by june they’ll know what they have with both. either martin will be doing a fine job, and they just keep montero in AAA to play everyday and improve defensively until september callups…. or martin will be OPSing 650, and they can DFA him and call montero up.

        i have little doubt that the yanks want him to start the season at C, but that doesn’t mean they automatically think less of montero. in my opinion, it’s just as likely (if not more so) that they feel both are viable major leaguers and are just operating under “you can never have too much catching depth”

    • bexarama says:

      i think a lot of us are jumping to conclusions a little too quickly about how the yanks may feel about montero simply because they’re interested in signing martin

      no kidding.

      That said, it doesn’t look like Martin is undervalued in this market at all. I remember people saying Olivo would sign with the Yankees for like $1M or less and look what he got.

  5. JM says:

    All this means, if the do sign him, is that they would have Martin and Montero alternate at catching instead of Posada/Cervelli/Montero. This doesn’t mean at ALL that they will trade Montero.

  6. radnom says:

    which speaks volumes of the club’s assessment of Jesus Montero‘s defensive capabilities.

    Or it simply means that they realize handing a starting job to a 22 year old who has never played a game in the majors is risky when your only backup plan is Cervelli.

    Of course they are signing him to compete for the starting catcher job. If Montero pans out as expected – great, Martin sees a lot of the bench/3B. If not, well at least Cervelli doesn’t play all the time.

    Its worth overpaying Martin as a starter for that insurance.

    • Steve H says:

      Its worth overpaying Martin as a starter for that insurance.

      Especially on a 1 year deal, but I doubt Martin wants to be seen as insurance.

      • Slugger27 says:

        but I doubt Martin wants to be seen as insurance.

        but if he comes in as a starter, he wouldn’t be insurance. he only becomes “insurance” if he plays himself into a backup role while montero takes his job.

        • radnom says:

          Exactly. This ‘viewing him as a starter’ is simply a requirement to be considered as a potential suitor, not a statement on Montero’s defense.

    • deadrody says:

      “Risky” is being generous with the description of that idea. Tne Yankees would be ecstatic if Montero could start and mash at catcher as a rookie. The chances of it being a seemless, problem free transition are a pipe dream.

    • They will be picking up Martin so they can trade Cervelli. Montero will more than likely be brought up and will share the catching with Martin and Posada. They will bat Montero as the DH on occasion. Montero’s defensive skills are better than you are saying. He has improved a lot and has a very good arm. Martin is a safety net. Would be a disaster if they traded Montero. Yankees are trading away their top talent and could cause the team to crumble.

  7. bonestock94 says:

    2/24 lol

  8. Sean C says:

    This makes sense to me. With a 39 year old Posada DH’ing pretty much full-time, your plan is to have a 21 year old that hasn’t seen a single major league inning and CERVELLI as your full time catchers, it’s a damn risky strategy. Signing Martin seems like a good way to break Montero into the bigs and alleviate some of the pressure of being the NY Yankees star prospect/catcher.

    • Slugger27 says:

      co-sign to all of this

    • Shaun says:

      I agree, even the Giants kept Molina around long enough to see if Posey was ready. Montero is 21, far younger than most catchers are when they normally break out. Joe Mauer is the only catcher I can think of that broke through at age 21 and he only played 35 games at catcher that year.

  9. I want him, but I think Canadian boy decides to play for Team Canada instead.

  10. Monteroisdinero says:

    Well-Montero is going to move from batting 3rd at Scranton and being the top hitting prospect in minor league baseball to batting 8th or 9th. That takes some pressure off. Cervelli did pretty well a few years ago as a 23 year old in his first year. All of this discussion makes me feel less comfortable about getting Lee. Having CC/Lee/Andy pitch to Jesus sounds fine to me. 3 lefties with excellent control would be perfect for Jesus and they could call their own games. Pena and Posada mentoring-a perfect situation for the young Jesus.

    /if only

    • Shaun says:

      Don’t forget Girardi, that’s like 60 yrs of MLB catching experience right there, and don’t forget how good Pena was for Jorge. Now if he could bring an old, mid-late 30′s backstop like Jorge into career years defensively (I’m excluding 2010 because age caught up with him) think about what he can do with a 21 yr old beast like Montero.

  11. jramey says:

    don’t want

  12. MikeD says:

    If they wanted Martin this badly, why didn’t they just trade Cervelli for him? They were concerned what he’d get in arbitration, yet it seemed obvious that if he was non-tendered a bidding war would break out for his services, with the Red Sox being the chief rival. The Red Sox do not have a catcher (Salty is the Red Sox’ version of Bubba Crosby, and Varitek is a back-up), or catching prospects like the Yankees do, so they were going to go hard after him.

    I’ve questioned all along if the Yankees were serious about turning over the full-time catching duties to a kid who just turned 21 last month and has all of 100 games caught at AAA. I’d like to see them work him in, but he’s not someone to be trusted fulltime.

    • radnom says:

      If they wanted Martin this badly, why didn’t they just trade Cervelli for him?

      Has it been confirmed that the Yankees pulled out and not the Dodgers? Maybe they were in negotiations with another team up until the non-tender deadline that just never panned out.

      If the Yankees are the one who backed out, yeah it looks like they misread the market a bit if reports of him getting a multi-year offer are true.

    • candyforstalin says:

      7m is not same as 4m.

      • MikeD says:

        Yet, Martin already rejected 4.2 million (and another million plus in incentives), so he’s not coming cheap. Be curious what he signs for. I think that will determine if the Yankees screwed up by opening the door for the Sox.

  13. hank says:

    Does anyone think the Marlins would trade Josh Johnson?

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Why would they?

      He’s a 27 year old damn good pitcher signed to a reasonable contract for the next 3 years.

      • hank says:

        Dunno, I’m just not thrilled with the other trade names I’m hearing…I would rather have Johnson then Grienke. The Marlins just always seem to be cutting payroll. Maybe if we gave them Montero and or Joba plus others?

    • A.D. says:

      No, and I kinda wish people would stop bringing it up, if they did trade him its because someone wanted to vastly overpay

  14. Hughesus Christo says:

    Doe anyone think Russell Martin is really bad and this “bidding war” is absurd?

    • Slugger27 says:

      you and big bertha

      ironically, ya’ll will be the ones bitching about cervelli if the red sox wind up getting martin

    • bexarama says:

      I don’t think he’s “really bad” but yeah, I think it’s kinda silly. But look at the deals, like, Olivo got, and it’s a little more understandable.

      • candyforstalin says:

        he’s the only decent catcher left. and both us and boston need one.

        • We don’t need a catcher that bad. We still have Posada and Cervelli and at some point Montero. We only need a little time to develop the young guys like Montero. It is either Cervelli backing up Montero or Martin. Montero won’t be catching every game.

  15. hogsmog says:

    So Martin catches, Jesus DHs, and Posada plays backup third when A-Rod gets hurt. Jorge used to play 2nd, and even tried a little 1b, so he should be able to make the switch just fine, right? Gotta keep the Core Four playing as far into their forties as possible, right?


  16. Ash says:

    Assuming the Yanks get Martin,I’m not a big fan of trading Montero.He’s a real monster bat in the future and with A-Rod injuries the past 2 years,Jeter on the decline(ground ball machine),Texeira’s Annual SLOW starts, you can’t put it all on Cano’s ability.The Yanks NEED the Homegrown stud Montero!!! He’s hit on every level and is a scientific slugger in the mold of a Miguel Cabrera/Manny Ramirez prototype.I’m not worrying about his catching.Since he’s just 21.Remember Buster Posey excelled last year at age 23!! 2 years makes quite a difference.

    If there was a remote chance I do trade for Montero it would NOT be for basket case(to much pressure in the Yankee Media fishbowl) Greinke.

    It would be for King Felix!

    He’s dominated the Yanks. The AL East.

    And pitched a 2 hit shutout against the Red Sox in FENWAY on national tv.
    Maybe even Josh Johnson?

    Anyway I pray the Yanks have faith in Jesus.

    Montero that is.

    • Ash says:

      P.S.- Besides when Texeira’s contract ends, Montero will still be in his young and in his prime to move to first base.

    • bonestock94 says:

      I’ll take a basket case that has put up 20 WAR in his ages 24-26 seasons. Greinke is clearly on the trading block, there has been zero indication that Felix is.

      • Ash says:

        He’s also coming off a down year and Jumping in the Big Apple and AL East will be to much.

        • bonestock94 says:

          How do you know, are you his psychiatrist? His FIP was pretty much in line with his career numbers in 2010. I’d really hate to lose Montero or any of the top 5-6 prospects but if we don’t get Lee it’ll likely be mandatory.

          • Ash says:

            I’m not. But he’s been quoted in the past(Him as well as his friends) as not wanting to play in NY.And initial that self doubt is still a red flag to me.Hey he’s a great pitcher.Just not my alternate option after Cliff Lee.

            I would like Montero to stay.

            • Monteroisdinero says:

              I’m with you Ash. Montero was a man among boys in Triple A and will become a premier bat-hopefully for 12-15 years. His catching is not that bad! I would love to hear Wynegar interviewed since he had Jesus in Scranton last year. We had TERRIBLE catching this year and we still made it to the ALCS where our catching defense was the least of our problems.

          • TJ says:

            No Grienke. Too much of a risk for someone that has only been a Royal. Anxiety issues don’t just disappear.

            • hogsmog says:

              Do you think it’s relevant that he wouldn’t be the Yankee’s ace? Especially if we land Lee, then he’d be the #3 starter. Still the spotlight, but not so much.

  17. Mike HC says:

    I don’t really get this unless Montero is traded. Posada, Montero, Cervelli and Romine should be able to at least equal Martin’s production, and would most likely out produce him. Why not save this money for the bullpen, for Wood or someone else.

    • Ash says:

      My sentiments exactly!

      Unless say Martin can help recruit Andre Ethier to play right down the road when they eventually cut Swish loose.

    • mbonzo says:

      This might be a quasi-moneyball move. There are two scenarios.

      1. Yankees will have to trade Montero, in which case Martin becomes an everyday player.

      2. Yankees will be patient with Martin and let him play third and other positions til he’s healthy and begins to play backup catcher. If Montero sticks behind the plate the Yankees can trade Martin off as soon as he proves he can catch and hit again.

      • Mike HC says:

        How is that a moneyball move? It just seems like the Yanks want him as backup plan to a number of scenarios. Either Montero is highly likely to be traded at any point from now until the trade deadline, and/or Montero really can’t be a Major League catcher. If at least one of those two things are not true, it does not make too much sense to me.

  18. pat says:

    I think we’re keeping him from the Red Sox.

  19. TJ says:

    Who would want to come to NY knowing that the plan is to give your job up to a kid in a year or two, or perhaps sooner? If Martin signs, then I’m assuming the Yanks have told him that the job is his and that Montero is going to be traded. Still, you have the Romine option if you trade Jesus. Maybe the Yanks project Romine as a better potential MLB Catcher. It would be foolish to think that the Yanks are going to give the starting job to a rookie that has never caught 1 pitch at the MLB level. I never bought that, especially when he was already offered in the trade for Lee, that told me what the Yanks really thought of Jesus.

  20. Reggie C. says:

    If a move for Martin speaks volumes of the internal assessment of Montero’s catching at this stage, then lets offer Martin a MULTI-YEAR contract and pray Kevin Long can help stabilize Martin’s offensive approach.

    Montero is a DH right now. The young man shouldnt be calling games for AJ BURNETT or Phil Hughes … starters who need a smart defensive catcher to mitigate melt-downs.

    Two years / 10 million guaranteed. incentives of another couple million.

  21. Ash says:

    Romine may develop into a good catcher. But is his offensive upside is really questionable.

    Kind of like Dan Wilson of the Mariners.

    Lifetime rally killer.

    • Reggie C. says:


      We need to see another full season of Romine, this time in AAA, to better assess what kind of hitter he can be in his prime. Judging from last season’s epic melt-down after the AS break, ROmine isn’t inspiring much confidence.

  22. TJ says:

    Breaking news: Bubba Crosby will be in CF starting next year too.

  23. TJ says:

    I say NO Grienke. I don’t think that the Yankees would be a good test for someone with a history of anxiety issues.

  24. Evan says:

    Sign Martin, keep Jesus in AAA for first half the season with Cervelli as back-up, swap out Cervelli with Montero at the half way point, have him as your back-up/pinch hitter maybe some days as DH. That way Montero has time to adjust before becoming full time guy. Romine goes up to AAA for back half of season. In two years you have a much better chance of Montero or Romine being able to handle the everyday job. Martin is a great one year low risk (money and commitment) stop gap.

    • TJ says:

      If he wants to be a stop gap. I don’t think so.

      • Evan says:

        Has a chance to reestablish himself on a short term deal and go back out on the market in a year (will be last year of arbitration I believe so better situated to look for a long term deal). He’s not looking for a long term deal he is looking for a situation to up his value in the short term so he can get a more lucrative deal later.

        • TJ says:

          Maybe so, we’ll have to see

        • If the Red Sox had a phenom like Montero they would bring him up next year. Why would the yankees be any different? His defense is much better than most here are saying. He has a good arm and handles pitchers well. He only struggles blocking balls. He will learn that in time. He can also DH on occasion. Haven’t had a hitter like him since Mickey Mantle. Yankees are only being cautious if they get Martin.

  25. SinCityYankee says:

    If we get Martin then does Cervelli get DFA’d? We’d then have three catchers on the roster (Posada, Montero, & Martin) I’m assuming Romine starts the season in AAA.

  26. TJ says:

    OK my swami prediction.

    Yanks don’t get Lee, he stays in Texas.
    Yanks sign Martin, Trade Montero ++ for an arm (not Grienke).

    Pettite retires.

    Yanks sign a Washburn level type for a fifth, or use that 5th spot as a revolving door for auditions to see who sticks. Nova, Mitre, etc.

    Yanks still win and make the playoffs and then whatever happens happens. No need for 5 aces to win.

  27. Chris says:

    I don’t understand why the Yankees would see him as a starter. He has a .307 wOBA over the last two seasons, and missed the end of 2010 with a torn hip labrum. Offensively, he’s basically Francisco Cervelli at this point.

  28. JV says:

    it’s bullshit if montero is traded IMO
    fuck greinke let some other team get him

  29. Joe says:

    It may be very short sighted to trade Jesus for Greinke just because he isn’t very good behind the plate. Mike Piazza, another poor defensive catcher, had over 40 WAR after his sixth complete season.

  30. deadrody says:

    I’m a little tired of this “OMG if Montero doesn’t start, his defense (or whatever else) must suck”.

    Please. All other things being equal there would normally be ZERO chance a 21 year old rookie would be a contending team’s starting catcher. That proposition is NUTS, generally speaking. Wanting to sign a catcher that is a pretty sure bet as a starter seems like the smart thing to do and should not reflect on Montero – AT ALL.

  31. Nick says:

    sign him. Partly because I don’t want Boston to get him but does anyone really think Montero or Posada is gonna be throwin out Crawford or Ellsbury? It would also give the Yanks some options if Pettitte retires. They could see if they could deal him for Nolasco or possibly in a Greinke package.

  32. Jerome S says:


  33. Dave says:

    “I wouldn’t put it past him to go to New York,” the source said. “I don’t think he’d rule out anybody. He says he likes New York. Especially because they’re winners. He wants to go to a team that wins.

    This was from that above-listed Yahoo article regarding Greinke. Full disclosure: The unnamed “source” was my Aunt Millie.

  34. Steve says:

    Martin rejected a one year deal from the dodgers, 4.2mil with 1.5 mil in incentives. He apparently is looking for more than that in years/money. He cannot squat yet and just recently began jogging. Don’t get to excited about him starting the season behind the plate, I’m not sure he will be physically ready for that.

  35. Martin sounds like a gamble as a safety net. Cervelli is pretty good as a backup but does not have the bat. Posada can still catch. I personally don’t see why you wouldn’t give Montero time at dh while he develops. He has nothing left to prove at AAA.

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