Pirates agree to terms with Russell Martin

According to various sources, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with free agent catcher Russell Martin. Ken Rosenthal was the first to break the news on Thursday night:

It appears that the contract will be for two years and worth $17 million. The deal should be finalized on Friday.

Here’s a look at Martin’s career offensive numbers:

Year Age Tm G H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
2006 23 LAD 121 117 10 65 .282 .355 .436 .792 RoY-9
2007 24 LAD 151 158 19 87 .293 .374 .469 .843 AS,GG,SS
2008 25 LAD 155 155 13 69 .280 .385 .396 .781 AS
2009 26 LAD 143 126 7 53 .250 .352 .329 .680
2010 27 LAD 97 82 5 26 .248 .347 .332 .679
2011 28 NYY 125 99 18 65 .237 .324 .408 .732 AS
2012 29 NYY 133 89 21 53 .211 .311 .403 .713
7 Yrs 925 826 93 418 .260 .352 .399 .751
162 Game Avg. 162 145 16 73 .260 .352 .399 .751

Bill James projects him to hit .242 with 16 home runs next season.

He’s been to the All-Star Game three times, and has also won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He brings experience and leadership to Pittsburgh as well.

While the price tag was a little high, Martin is definitely an upgrade over Barajas. We were skeptical at first, but this excited us a little bit:

This is where each of Martin’s 2012 home runs would have landed at PNC Park. The large left field would be expected to take away some of Martin’s power, but it looks like about 18 of his 21 bombs would have cleared the fences.

He also had an extremely low batting average on balls in play last season, which means that his average might climb a bit. Still, a .211 batting average is concerning and certainly not what the Pirates need.

It was refreshing to hear that Martin was intrigued by Bucs (enough so that he wanted to sign here). Neil Walker mentioned at the end of the year that they needed more veteran leadership, and Martin, who already has seven years under his belt, seems to be a good addition for the clubhouse.

This speaks volumes to the development of Tony Sanchez; is he really that far off? He’s certainly had a disappointing minor league career to date, but he was definitely a candidate to back up Michael McKenry. Plus it’s a two-year deal, so they must not have much faith in him at all. Here’s what Sanchez had to say:

Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib brings up a reasonable point: Russell Martin’s deal could easily turn out to be similar to Matt Morris‘. He says, “It’s far clearer now than it was with Littlefield in 2007 that they’re in huge trouble, hanging by a thread. And right along with it comes a monster deal — by Pittsburgh standards — for a light-hitting catcher on the decline… But let’s not pretend this transaction was anything other than what it was: A desperation move.”

Finally, Neal Huntington has been here in Pittsburgh since 2007. He’s honestly done nothing but lose; plenty of fans want him gone. Has he improved the state of the franchise a bit? Sure – flocks of people went through the turnstiles at PNC last season, season ticket sales are up, and some money is definitely flying in (we’re sure Nutting loves that). NH is fighting for his job… but he’s playing with fire. This signing could be a domino effect for the Bucs – how much more cash do they have to spend? Could Joel Hanrahan‘s career as a Pirate be over? We’ll know soon enough, as the Winter Meetings take place next week. Can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.

Go Bucs

Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons

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Pirates acquire three; Russell Martin on radar?

Neal Huntington and his staff shuffled the roster a bit today by acquiring three players.

First, they picked up RHP Zach Stewart from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. Stewart, 26, has a career 6.82 ERA in 33 games.

Next, the Bucs got 1B Clint Robinson and RHP Vin Mazzaro from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Luis Rico and Luis Santos (both minor league pitchers). Robinson, who will turn 28 in February, hit .292 with 13 HR last season for Triple-A Omaha. He’s been blocked in the Royals’ system, mostly by young first baseman Eric Hosmer. Robinson seems to be a decent pickup; his name was brought into discussion last spring when the Bucs lacked offense. The 26 year old Mazzaro had a 5.73 ERA in 44 innings last year for KC. He pitched against the Pirates on June 9th, lasting just three innings and surrendering four runs.

To clear room on the 40 man roster, they designated “The Hit Collector” Matt Hague and Yamaico Navarro for assignment.

Rob Biertempfel of the Trib brought up some good points about these pickups. He writes, “Pirates today made two trades that could figure into plans for who is tendered/non-tendered Friday… Vin Mazzaro could be either back-end starter or long reliever, just like arbitration-eligible Jeff Karstens. Clint Robinson makes it 3’s a crowd at first base with arbitration-eligible Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez.” It’ll be interesting to see how the Bucs handle this. Both Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez should betendered contracts, but you never know. If Jones and Sanchez are on the Opening Day roster, Clint Robinson would most likely be replacing Matt Hague and Jeff Clement as the first baseman at Indianapolis.

In other news, it looks like the club is aggressively pursuing catcher Russell Martin. Jon Heyman wrote that the Bucs are trying to pry him away from the Yankees. Heyman says that the Pirates may be offering around 3 years/$25 million. Many of the people who have weighed in on the situation are not too excited about this deal. Martin hit just .211 last season and his power numbers will most likely decline at PNC Park. Is he an upgrade over Rod Barajas? Yes. Is he worth the money he’s asking for? Probably not.

Biertempfel had this to say – “There’s a sense among some in industry that Pirates will overpay if necessary for a FA this year. Will it be C Russell Martin? Management must show it’s serious about avoiding another second-half breakdown. And the club desperately needs a catcher.”

Ken Rosenthal with a few thoughts:

Go Bucs

First roster moves of the offseason

The Pirates made their first moves of the offseason today. Not exactly Earth-shattering transactions, but not much Bucco news has surfaced (other than more Hoka Hey).

First, they claimed RHP Chad Beck and C Ali Solis off waivers. Beck, 27, had a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings for Toronto in 2012. Solis, 25, had no hits in four at-bats for San Diego this year.

In order to make room for the two players, they designated C Eric Fryer and INF Jeff Clement for assignment. Both players were up and down over the past few years; not great talent, but filled in when necessary.

More to come. Go Bucs.

More roster moves

Since the Indy Indians were eliminated from the playoffs, three more players will be joining the big league club. Those players are infielder Chase d’Arnaud, right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris, and right-handed pitcher Rick VandenHurk.

d’Arnaud, 25, hit .217 in 48 games for the Pirates last season. He was recently called up after the release of Erik Bedard, but didn’t see any action. He only hit .252 in Triple-A this season, but stole 34 bases.

Morris, 25, has yet to appear in the major leagues. He held a 2.67 earned run average in 46 games as a reliever this year. He was part of the Jason Bay trade in 2008.

VandenHurk, 27, has a 5.97 ERA in 46 career MLB games. The Netherlands native was 13-5 with a 2.92 ERA for Indianapolis.

To make room for VandenHurk, they designated Evan Meek for assignment. Meek allowed nine runs on 14 hits in 12 innings for the Bucs this season. He was 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA out of Indy’s bullpen.

Pirates make plethora of moves

First, the Bucs announced that Kevin Correia will be making the start tonight in San Diego. Dejan Kovacevic reported that Correia volunteered to make the start despite pitching in relief yesterday.

Justin Wilson and Kyle McPherson were both recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. They’ll most likely help in relief tonight, as the bullpen was well-worked in yesterday’s 19 inning affair.

In the corresponding moves, Juan Cruz was designated for assignment and Jordy Mercer went on paternity leave. It was rumored that Chad Qualls was coming off the bereavement list but that apparently is not the case. That move may come after the game or tomorrow when either McPherson or Wilson goes back to the minors. Cruz is a better option out of the ‘pen than Qualls, but apparently the Pirates don’t think so.

Series preview is HERE.

Go Bucs