Nov
20

Locking Up Russell Martin

By

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Over the last few months, the sabermetric community has made a number of advances in the area of catcher defense. Studies by Max Marchi and Mike Fast on pitch framing and a study from Bojan Koprivica on pitch blocking have begun the process of quantifying the more difficult to measure elements of a backstop’s defense. While these studies are still in their infancy and are likely to be tweaked and altered in the coming months and years, they do provide us with one reasonable concrete lesson: Good defense from a catcher is likely more important than we had previously thought when trying to measure catcher value.

In the past, catchers tended to be put into one of two groups: good defender or weak defender. Sure, you had one or two Gold Glovers at the top and a handful of guys who were execrable enough to be known as terrible at the bottom, but the vast majority of catchers were placed into those two groups. Without any way to truly quantify defense, these broad categories had to suffice, and this resulted in most people evaluating catchers based on their offense. Catcher defense was thrown in at the end of conversations as an aside, possibly with caught stealing numbers and some passed ball data, but little tangible data that would shift an evaluation in either direction. Only those known as excellent catchers would get any sort of boost from their perceived defensive value.

Now, with these new studies, we can begin to quantify catcher defense, and use that to reevaluate the worth of a catcher who performs well behind the dish. As I noted above, one lesson that can be taken from these studies is that defense behind the dish is quite important. Let’s use Russell Martin as an illustration.

While I am far from the biggest proponent of WAR, these new metrics are expressed in terms of runs saved, making WAR a convenient way to weigh the impact of Martin’s defense. Before considering defense, Russell Martin was worth 3.1 wins last season (FanGraphs). However, once you add 1.5 runs saved by controlling the running game, 0.1 runs saved blocking pitches, and 15 runs saved by being among the best at framing pitches (Fast’s research consistently places Martin near the top of the league in this area), you suddenly have an incredibly valuable 4.6 win player. While the first instinct of many is to flinch at the idea that the “unmeasurable” aspects of catcher defense can add that much value, it is important to note that the very best defenders gained at most two wins due to their gloves. That is not much different than the value added defensively by the best at other positions, and catchers are involved on almost every pitch.

The suggestion here is not that Russell Martin is a 4-5 win player, but that he is a very good defender and that has definite value exceeding what some of the value metrics would suggest. Accepting that hypothesis leads me to my point: If the Yankees do not believe that Jesus Montero is their catcher of the future, it would make sense for them to offer Russell Martin a 2-3 year contract extension, either now or at the end of the 2012 season.

While he certainly showed improvement relative to 2009-2010, Martin had a decent but unspectacular season offensively, such that his value is probably not incredibly high at this point. Although he has a reputation as a solid defender, he is not known as one of the best in the sport, which makes it unlikely that he would get a major salary bump on the open market due to his glove. Essentially, if he was a free agent at this moment, he could market himself as a adequate offensive catcher with a solid glove, which is relatively unsexy and would not bring him a major financial windfall.

Being that the market almost certainly will not value his defense quite as much as it should, the Yankees could have the opportunity to lock Russell up at a reasonable rate relative to his value. They could wait until after the 2012 season to sign him, although they might want to avoid the possibility that his price goes up either because 1) he bounces back to 2006-2008 levels offensively, or 2) teams begin to see him as a great defensive catcher. While the latter seems like a long shot, another season of the Yankees getting good performances out of retread pitchers could shine a light on the work that Martin does behind the plate.

Of course, there are downsides to signing Martin to an extension a year early, such as a major injury or a significant decline with the bat that would turn the contract into an albatross. Couple those risks with the fact that the team rarely hands out extensions, and I would bet on the Yankees waiting until after this season to address Martin’s contract. That said, once he does sign on for a few more years, he should provide enough defensive value to help any contract avoid disaster status. Russell’s glove is undervalued, and unless the Yankees believe they already have their catcher of the future knocking on the door, he would serve as an good option to fill the position for the next few seasons.

(Thanks to @jaydestro for inspiring this post)

Categories : Analysis
  • Grit for Brains

    I’d definitely try to lock Martin up for 2 years right now. He could have a monster contract year offensively as you point out and then your stuck replacing him internally (which may be very doable and may not be)…Worse case scenario is you have a very tradable asset, an above replacement level catcher on a 1 yr deal at yr’s end. A 2yr deal has so little risk from the teams perspective, I wonder if Martin would even take it or if he’d want to take his chances at a strong 2012 campaign heading into FA

  • Mickey S

    If Martn can stay healthy this year and put up comparable numbers across the board, on both sides of the ball, absolutely try and lock him up for 3-5 years, hopefully just three years guaranteed and vesting options based on health for the others. IF Romine is being shopped, Montero is more of a BUC and the others are 2-3 years away from the show it seems logical. With all that said, I’d like to see Montero start every fourth game, or so, at catcher to a) See what’s he’s got and b) Keep Martin fresh. Montero is better than the MSM gives him credit for on D, IMO.

    • Genghis

      “3-5 years”, LOL; there is a major difference between a 3 year contract and a 5 year contract in terms of risk– they are just not in the same stratosphere.

      As for catchers of the future: In 2012, Montero will be getting his feet wet in the majors, while Romine will be starting at AAA. Romine will be #4 on the depth chart (#3 is Cervelli or a pure glove guy if they trade Cervelli), seeing a bit more time in NY than he did in 2011, and will be competiting for the starting ML job in 2013.

      I can see giving Martin a 1 year extension, just to keep the options open, and 2 more years would not be crazy. But by 2014, Romine, Montero will be established in the majors and Sanchez, Murphy, whoever will be in the high minors and knocking on the door.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    As stated, he’s going to play this season out before a new contract.

    This directly influences Jesus. a) work him in behind the dish and evaluate if he can be a real option. b) start to work Jesus in at RF at 3A, and see if he can play the OF and he could perhaps be an option after Swish.

    • MannyB ace2be

      Has he ever caught a ball in the outfield? You can’t just “throw him in the OF” and realistically expect even decent results

    • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

      Jesus Montero is a DH/C who might be able to play some 1B down the road. He doesn’t have the physical tools necessary to pass in the OF.

    • RetroRob

      First base is his only other postion, IMHO. Have you ever watched him run? He’s a hitter. Let him catch some and DH mostly, and then start giving him ten or fifteen games at first as Montero will still only be in his mid-20s with Tex’s contract is done.

  • Plank

    I don’t understand why Martin would want to sign a 2-3 year deal. What’s in it for him?

    • Mike HC

      Yea, seems to me like it would make far more sense for him to have another solid, healthy season and get a longer term contract next off season. I’m sure that is probably his plan as well.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

        I just don’t know that long term contracts for a guy of his caliber exists. I put the question out there on twitter (looking for catchers who weren’t big bats who got long term deals), and the biggest deal we could find was the 3 years John Buck got, and he had a career year right before becoming a FA. While it’s possible Martin does the same, even then his payoff won’t be great.

        • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

          Bengie Molina also got a 3 year deal, and the outlier is Ramon Hernandez, who got a 4 year deal that did not really work out very well (thanks to @zs190). It looks like 3 years is the outside range for this sort of player. Of course, I think the new metrics show Martin to be a more valuable player than that, but I don’t think he gets more than 3 on the open market.

        • Mike HC

          I just think if we all realize how valuable Martin is, there have got to be some other teams out there that realize that too.

          But either way, you could be right. Seems like 3 years would be a realistic guess for what he could get next off season, 4 certainly the max. So maybe depending on how generous the Yanks are, you take a good look at signing that 3 year deal.

          • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

            With Martin, I think we might realize it because we watch him every day after watching poor defense back there for years, and now have these numbers to confirm. But outside NY, there was no buzz for Martin for Gold Glove or anything like that (even in NY you didn’t really hear it). I just don’t think he’s perceived quite that way. So you have a great glove perceived as a good one, which could mean he’s undervalued.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      Catchers who are not offensive studs just don’t get paid in this league (which may have to do with the fact that no one can really quantify how much these guys are adding defensively). A 3 year deal for solid money is a pretty solid score for him.

      • RetroRob

        Agree. A three-year extension gives him four years of security. He gets injured this year and it will cost him dearly, so he gives a discount off expected market rates to lock in the money now.

        It’s worth the Yankees looking into it, yet I can’t remember the last time they didn’t want for a contract to expire before negotiating, with the exception of CC, which obviously is a different case.

        • Plank

          They don’t negotiate in the middle of multi-year deals. Arbitration guys are different.

    • toad

      Money. Security.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    I’d love to keep Russell, but I think it’s too early to make that decision, both for Russell (for reasons stated above) and for the Yankees. The team needs to decide what Montero’s position is, and if Romine is more everyday Yankee catcher or tradebait. If Romine is tradebait and Montero is the everyday DH, then you lock Russell up at the of 2012. If the team feels extremely comfortable with Romine or Montero behind the plate full-time in the future, then you let him go.

    My hunch? Russell stays. Montero DH’s. Romine is part of a package in which the team avoids trading Betances/Banuelos for a solid starter.

    • Kevin

      I hope we keep Romine..but I know we probably won’t.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      I feel the same. I expect Martin to be the guy for the next 2-3 years, while they have Montero be the primary DH and backup catcher. He will slowly get more time behind the dish, much like Jorge did. I just can’t see them hand the catching job to a 22 year old about whom there are major doubts defensively. As for Romine, I think he’ll be traded, possibly this offseason for a starter.

  • gargoyle

    I see no reason to lock up Martin. I like him a lot but play him this year and let someone else deal with his injuries after that.

  • Mike HC

    Well done. Enjoyed this one. Nice to see some defensive stats proving our defenders underrated for a change.

    I definitely like Martin a lot. I wouldn’t mind locking him up for another 3 years if we can get a real good deal. I also don’t think waiting for next year, and playing it safe, is a bad move either though.

  • emac2

    Given the injury history a 2 year deal is still a set for life amount of money so I could see it.

    My concern about gving him a long deal is not only the injury risk and system depth but he doesn’t seem like someone who like to play as much as I would like based on some of the info from his Dodger time.

  • Kenny

    Are you insane??? Lock up a player that barely hit .230??? HELL FUCKING NO

    • Mike HC

      The entire point of the article is that he as an elite defender, not just solid. And being an elite defender for a player involved with every pitch adds great value.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

        Exactly. It isn’t about his bat. And once we are cherry picking batting average, we head down a dangerous path that could just as easily go:

        Are you awesome??? Lock up a player who hit 18 homers as a righty catcher in YS3!! HELL YES

  • Grover

    Cashman will visit this after the 2012 campaign and not before. He will likely allow Martin to leave if he performs well and thank him for holding down the spot for the young kids to get more experience. It is the reason he was brought in. He simply exceeded expectations and hopefully stays healthy through another season. Depending on which of Montero or Romine are part of a package for a front line starter, the other will likely be the catcher of the future until someone else is ready to make them expendable. Cervelli may survive as the backup and Martin is at least an option though probably more so if he disappoints or gets hurt than if he succeeds and prices himself out in terms of dollars and years on his next deal.

  • Mike HC

    If this kind of “framing” stat starts to get more legitimate and mainstream, the umpires would probably get the word as well. Might they start realizing who are best at “framing” aka fooling the umps, and start to take this account on their calls?

    On the other hand, the mlb umps seem old school and would ignore these type stats, and the game also moves so fast on calling balls and strikes it would be near impossible to take this into account?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      That’s certainly possible, but I think it would take a long time for this sort of stuff to trickle down to them. I think it would likely take years before they even admitted the possibility that catchers could influence how the pitch is called.

      • Mike HC

        Yea, I’m with you.

    • RetroRob

      We shouldn’t be assuming the “framing skills” are BSing the umpires. It may simply be allowing the umpires to better read and call the pitches, while also giving the pitchers better targets on the edge.

  • Steve (different one)

    The Rays just added Jose Molina. Does that help legitimize the framing study, since many believe they are always ahead of the curve?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      A number of Rays fans have suggested this, actually. Of course, its impossible to know, but I do think Molina’s defensive reputation is stellar and that the Rays could have found a way to quantify that.

      • Steve (different one)

        I don’t think a lot of fans could tell how bad Posada was behind the plate until Molina was the full time catcher in 2008…when Posada came back in 2009, I remember thinking “wow”. Of course he was also older and coming off an injury, but there was a distinct difference in the way Molina received pitches, his hands were so much “quieter”….

        • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

          I think Posada got much worse with age. As you said, starting in 2009, I think he just fell off a cliff.

  • Steve (different one)

    Fwiw, which is prob not much, I did get the impression that Martin really loved being a Yankee. But that’s why these guys have agents i suppose.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    He’s been league average to worse in the past three years with the bat so this extension is solely on his defense. I mean if it’s team friendly I would welcome it but I’m sure he’ll get a lot more on the open market.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      A lot more? I’m not sure what you mean by team-friendly, but I really don’t see a major contract waiting for him in free agency.

  • Bobby two knives

    wow! I had to look up “execrable.”

  • Virgil Earp

    I don’t care about all of these fancy schmancy made up stats. In Game 5 of the division series against Detroit he had a chance to come through with one big hit and he couldn’t do it. He’s not a clutch hitter and we’ve had one at catcher since 97. Best look elsewhere. At least Montero can hit.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      I love Jorge, he’s one of my favorites, but you might want to look up his postseason stats. And defense at catcher is incredibly important, even if you don’t use the “fancy schmancy” stats.

    • Ted Nelson

      You prefer to judge a player on one single plate appearance, and do not feel it’s important to quantify the value of on field play?

  • Urban

    Why does it have to be one or the other? Signing Martin to a three-year contract extension would be a good idea, even if the Yankees believe Montero might be the catcher of the future. I suspect we’re going to see something like a Martin/Montero 120/30 split behind the plate in 2012, during which time the Yankees can continue to work with Montero and evaluate him defensively. If they like what they see and want to up his time in 2013, they’re going to need Martin as part of a platoon similar to Posada/Girardi in 1998. If they really like Montero behind the plate at that point, then they can trade Martin and the last two years of his contract. There’s never a shortage of interest in a big-league catcher who calls a good came and has some pop in his bat.

    I’m not quite sure I agree with you on the market not valuing Martin’s defense as much as it should. Martin already has won a gold glove, and a high percentage of MLB teams now have their own internal advanced metrics teams, and also are familiar with studies, such as Mike Fast’s. The concern with Martin coming into 2011 was his hip and mobility, both of which he answered in 2011.

    Great pick-up by Cashman. Sign him to extension, especially since like many here, I’m convinced Montero’s future is a DH/back-up catcher, and probably eventually first baseman.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      This is a fair comment all around, and I think you might very well be right about the Martin/Montero split. I probably should have said “if the Yankees don’t see Montero as their catcher of the immediate future,” because I do see the Posada/Girardi arrangement repeating itself here.

      As for valuing defense, I guess his lack of the slightest Gold Glove buzz suggested to me that teams do not view him that way. But you could be right, teams could perceive him differently.

      • Urban

        You could be and probably are correct that other teams in the league may not value Martin’s defense as much as they should, but I do think that overall he’s viwwed as a good defender around the league. I could be wrong on that. I viewed him as a good defender when he came to the Yankees as long as he was healthy.

        One reason I agree that the Yankees might want to look at an extension is to save money. My fear is if the Yankees wait until the end of 2012, and if Montero is not viewed as being capable of catching 130 games, then Martin will be able to name his price, especially if he has an even better year in 2012, as I think he will.

        The good news is the Yankees have other options, such as Romine, although I think it’s better than 50/50 Romine gets moved in a deal for a pitcher this off-season.

        • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

          That’s an excellent point. If they trade Romine and Montero has a rough defensive year, Martin gains a lot of leverage, unless they want to be left with Cervelli. Hadn’t thought of that.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    I’ll bite. I love Martin, and would totally go for two more years of his services. Would an even $8 mil over those years be an acceptable deal?

    Nice article, Moshe.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      Thanks! And considering the deals utility men like Barmes are getting, I’d guess he would need to get more. Maybe the same deal Buck got (3/18).

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

    Two things. Next years’ FA class is strong at the position, which will serve to lower his value some due to simple supply and demand. Of course, some of those names may never get to free agency if they get locked up prior, and I’m with you in hoping that happens with Martin.

    Next, the only way you get any savings is by locking a player up a year early. If you wait until the end of next year it will be very tempting for him to test the market and the team assumed no additional risk the prior year, so there’s no reason for Martin’s agent to give you a discount at that point.

    Finally, if Cash plans on trading any Catchers you don’t do anything with Martin until after you’re done dealing. You don’t want to tell the world you have your long term solution at Catcher locked up, which could make you look more motivated to deal someone like Romine or Montero.

    BTW-I think the reason why teams have been so slow to make moves this offseason is everyone needs to know what the CBA says. You can’t make a deal until you know if someone will be a Type A or not, which affects the value of the player.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      That was 4 things, wasn’t it?

      • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

        Haha, yes it was. 4 things I agree with, but 4 all the same.

        • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

          Once I get a-rollin, I just can’t stop.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    “another season of the Yankees getting good performance out of retread pitchers…”. So you are stating that Larry Rothschild and their own natural ability had nothing to do with the( Garcia, Colon) retreads. In ordewr to convince me that a catcher has so much influence you would also have to invent a metric for pitching and batting coaches. I believe we won 4WS with Posada behind the plate and he was not considered a great defensive catcher. I mean these metric guys can convince you that 2+2=5.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      Oh, I’m not saying their performance was definitely due to Martin. I’m suggesting that if it were to happen again, people would begin to look closer at what was going on, and would probably lay some of the credit at Martin’s feet, whether he deserved it or not.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        This I agree is veridical and not execrable at all.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      Actually, we won 1 WS with Posada as the full time Catcher and that team in 2000 collapsed down the stretch. Not saying the collapse was his fault, just that it was the weakest of the late 90’s group.

      http://www.baseball-reference......d_fielding::none

      Joe Girardi started 110 games in 96, 109 in 97, 76 in 98 and 67 games in 1999. The catching duties were shared by Posada and Girardi. Jorge didn’t start more than 100 games in a season at Catcher until after Girardi left.

      • Mike HC

        2009 as well.

        • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

          Right, I should have noted that. But when he said “4 WS” I took that to mean the late 90s run.

          • Jose M. Vazquez..

            OK so that’s 2 vs. 0 for Martin. The 2000 team probably was getting on in age and tired at the end but they did win the WS.

            • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

              ..and that’s 15 years of opportunities for Posada with the Yanks vs 1 for Martin. We’re not actually comparing the two, are we?

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        Did Leyritz or Posada catch the rest of the games in 98 and 99?

        • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

          You may or may not remember, but Leyritz was off the team after 96. He played against the Yanks with the Padres in the 1998 WS.

  • Rich in NJ

    Given his injury history and largely declining offense, his value may be at its peak. I’d wait and would even consider trading high on him.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      Locking him up won’t stop you from doing that. If the Yanks keep Montero/Romine/Sanchez and they appear to be ready to take over sometime during Martin’s extension, you can always deal him down the road. I’m sure Cash will retain that right in the negotiations given the farm system he has.

      • Rich in NJ

        But you could possibly sign him for less at the end of the season, or let him walk if gets hurt or severely underperforms.

        As a result of the large amount of money they have already committed to what are very likely declining vterans, their financial flexibility going forward is significantly limited if they are actually wedded to a payroll at or near $200m. So I don’t see the need to add another future commitment right now.

        OTOH, Cash compared him to Munson, which is bizarre, but if he really thinks that, then he is more likely to agree with you.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        Steve you can never have enough catchers. Once upon a time like 1961 the Yankees had a monopoly on catching. They had Yogi who could still catch but mostly played left field. They had Howard and Blanchard, Howard being the better of the two. In all the bashed about 70 or so homers. The youngsters in the farm should be taught another position as well since that could help keep their knees and legs from wearing down too soon. I am talking about Sanchez, Romine and of course Montero who is now with the big club.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    May I add that I like Martin and it might appear that I don’t. The thing is that he is receiving more credit for his chore than he is due.

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

    I’m surprised nobody has brought up the term “Moneyball” yet, but if Catcher defense is still not properly quantified by most teams then Martin is a classic Moneyball player.

    http://www.baseball-reference......2011#count

    For those of you that don’t think pitch framing matters, familiarize yourself with outcomes based on pitch count across baseball. The difference between a 1-2 count and a 2-1 is enormous. AL hitters posted an .869 OPS on 2-1 counts, and a mere .444 OPS on 1-2 counts. If the count is even it’s the difference between a full count (.807 OPS) and ending an AB and possibly the inning. Stealing a strike here and there can have a huge impact on a game.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      That I agree is true.

    • RetroRob

      Think of the year Bartolo was having and the tons of called strikes he was getting. Seems logical that Martin’s framing skills helped greatly.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Posada was in 111 games in 98, 112 in 99, and 151 in 2000.

  • Ted Nelson

    I find assuming that fans have taken the time to analyze these obviously important aspects of the game but teams have not disingenuous.

    A good portion of the article is based on the assumption that you know more about baseball than MLB teams. And the evidence offered relates almost entirely to what other fans know an not what teams actually know.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      That’s not a huge assumption. Many current GMs are on the record as not being fans of advanced metrics in general, much less the cutting edge ones. Ruben Amaro is one that comes immediately to mind that I recall being quoted recently, Dayton Moore as well from sometime last year.

      • Ted Nelson

        I would imagine that teams with their own departments of professional statisticians have their own cutting edge stats that they’d rather not discuss in public. That a GM hasn’t come out in public to explain to the world how he measures C defense doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a system which includes statistical analysis of the various (well known) aspects of catching defense.

        If guys pursuing it as a hobby have thought of it, there’s a pretty good chance guys getting paid to look into it have thought of it. Not at all to say fangraphs might not be “righter” than teams sometimes or that sabermetrics didn’t start among fans in the first place, but it’s just likely that teams have thought about catcher defense a bit and come up with some pretty obvious stats about blocking balls and framing pitches given their immense resources. And not to say that every team is at all on the same page here.

        • RetroRob

          …and that’s correct. The Yankees have more than twenty people in their quantitative analysis group and I remember reading an article last year by a reporter who was pretty stunned by the volumes of information the Yankees had that is not freely available. I wish I could find it, because its implications were pretty significant.

          The Red Sox love to come across as the “smartest guys in the room,” at least under Epstein. Cashman has a very different approach, and never talks about what they do internally. I guess it’s all part of Ninja Cash.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Moshe Mandel

      This is not the assumption that I’ve made at all. I am assuming that he’s perceived a certain way within the game, and I really have yet to see anyone suggest that he’s considered an elite defender. When he was freely available last offseason, the market did not seem to react to him in that way either. I’m also suggesting that this new research, which has not spread much outside the tight saber community and is really just beginning to get off the ground, might suggest that he is better than that perception. Yes, it could be that plenty of teams have done similar research and have reached a similar conclusion, but that would be reflected in the general perception of the player and the level of interest shown in that player.

      • Ted Nelson

        “I am assuming that he’s perceived a certain way within the game”

        And as evidence you use managers rather than GMs… Your evidence is that he didn’t win the Gold Glove. He did win a Gold Glove in 2007 and Gold Glove voting seems to be based as much on offensive value as defensive.

        He was available coming off two poor offensive seasons and got reasonable interest from two of the most successful orgs in baseball… the Yankees and Red Sox were both interested. He didn’t hit at all for two years and still got close to John Buck.

        “I’m also suggesting that this new research, which has not spread much outside the tight saber community and is really just beginning to get off the ground, might suggest that he is better than that perception.”

        Do you think front offices don’t have computers and internet access? That they don’t employ statisticians who are smart enough to realize that catching defense is more complex than caught stealing numbers…

        • Moshe Mandel

          Yes, that’s clearly what I believe, that they have no internet access.

          • Ted Nelson

            The information is not tightly held within the saber community… it’s freely available on the internet. If you were a statistician on an MLB team’s payroll, don’t you think it might be information that you’d like to know?

  • Moshe Mandel

    Put more succinctly, all Im suggesting is that to this point, the market has not shown an inclination to reward catcher defense.

    • Ted Nelson

      Overall I agree that Martin isn’t likely to get more than 3 or 4 years at a relatively reasonable AAV. I don’t see him getting some crazy deal.

      I just don’t necessarily agree with making the assumption that teams are behind on catcher defense. They might be, they might not be. It doesn’t take a real genius to understand that C defense is important and about more than simply caught stealing %.

      The Yankees and Red Sox were both on him as a free agent, and he got a deal somewhat close to the top “offensive” free agent catcher on the market.

      Even his FLD on fangraphs has been consistently above average and has high peaks. He was #11 in fWAR among Cs last season. 10th in wOBA among Cs with at least 400 PAs. So many Yankee fans have commented on his defense just from watching the games, and MLB teams employ scouts to watch games.

      Might C defense be a market inefficiency? Sure. If fans have been looking into its value, though, there’s also a pretty good chance that teams have. Plus if Buck can get that kind of a deal after only one season above 1.1 fWAR, it seems Martin will be in line for better never having had a season in his career below 2 fWAR. With 4 of 6 being 2.8 or above.

  • TinoBambino

    I’d sign Martin for 2 years and groom Montero for those 2. It doesn’t make sense for the Yankees to trade Montero for a valuable SP, when you could easily trade a Romine or Cervelli and get a serviceable number 2

    • Billion$Bullpen

      Why in heck would Martin sign for two years? Do players normally give away one year of free agency in a two year deal? I can not recall anybody of value doing that. I may be wrong on that fact but I am not wrong on the point that Martin has too much value to sign a two year deal now unless he is overpaid by some huge amount and the Yankees will not do that.

      If anybody watched the Yankees at least 10 times this year they saw the effect Martin had behind the plate. D is really strong, seems to call a very good game and appears to have a calming effect on pitchers that have a clue (not including AJ in that bunch)
      Martin gives away way too many at bats but other than that plays heads up “gritty” thinking mans baseball and has a real talent behind the plate. Some work should be spent on his batting this offseason. I do not recall anybody in a Yankees uni in the last 25 years giving them the level of quality he provided behind the dish. Jorge hit way better but never in his best season came close to the worst day Martin had back there (we all know Jorgie was no glove man and has his issues with pitchers)

      • RetroRob

        I’m thinking he’d sign a three-year deal, locking in the next four seasons. He takes less than he might get on the open market for the security of the money now since there is always injury risk.