Russell Martin didn’t have a season like Rod Barajas had in 2012, but he wasn’t exactly elite. The catcher hit for a .211 average and a .713 OPS, which was almost 90 points higher than Barajas. Those numbers don’t look like an elite catcher, but that doesn’t mean Martin won’t be a highly sought after target on the free agent market.
In perhaps the biggest sign of how weak the catching market is, Jon Heyman explains how Martin is the top free agent on the catching market. Heyman notes that Mike Napoli is seen as more of a hybrid player who will spend time as the DH and at first base. He also points out that after the options for Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz were picked up, the market looks thin.
Martin and AJ Pierzynski are the top names on the free agent market, although Heyman notes that the White Sox could bring Pierzynski back. He also notes that the Yankees have good depth at the position, but could bring Martin back to be their starter. If not, he mentions the Pirates, Mariners, and Rangers as teams who are in need of a catcher and could spend.
After Martin, the list of catching options isn’t that appealing. David Ross seems to be the next best name, even though he’s strictly a backup. Ross had 196 plate appearances last year and played in 62 games. Both were his highest marks since 2007. After Ross there’s guys like Miguel Olivo, Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Gerald Laird, and Barajas. None of those guys are prime candidates to be starters.
Martin made $7.5 M last year with the Yankees. Considering the lack of talent on the market this year, he could be looking at something similar for 2013. If the Yankees want him back, they’ll probably get him, which means the already thin market would only get worse.