After the Detroit Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a four year deal worth $68 million, Russell Martin must have cracked a smile. A 36 year old catcher, who is now primarily a designated hitter just received a lucrative offer that is worth $17 Million a season. I have to believe that Martin who is four years younger is going to be looking for a similar deal, if not more.
I figured that the Cubs would be strongly perusing Martin this offseason because of his defense, pitch framing skills and his ability to be a veteran leader. I assumed that Martin would likely max out around a four year deal worth $60 Million, but now I am not so sure.
Yes, Martinez is a much better bat and a designated hitter, so he should be getting more than Martin. However that might not mean much when free agents seek contracts on the open market. I was hesitant to sign Martin for even the $60 Million over four years coming off of a career year. If the price tag goes up much higher than that, I would run away, as fast as I can. Add in the lost second round draft pick, and that might be way too much for an again catcher who might be hovering just above average for his career.
I know that having a veteran leader is very important on a young team that has plans of contending, but how much should you pay for that veteran leadership? Knowing his age, and usual performance throughout his career, is the entire package that Martin brings worth the $15 Million per most originally suggested? Is he worth more than that? If so, how much more?
The idea of signing Martin to a long term contract concerns me because of his poor bat, as does his age. There will be at least one year of dead money at the end of that contract; though if the Cubs manage to win a World Series in the middle of his contract, no one will mind that year or maybe two when he is unproductive.
No matter what you or I think about his worth, Theo Epstein appears to really want him. I just hope he has learned his lesson from his days with the Boston Red Sox. Hopefully he learned to not overspend on players.
I will be interested to see just how much Epstein and Jed Hoyer think veteran leadership is worth.