Russell Martin has agreed to a one year deal with the Yankees, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. While it is just a one year deal, Martin does have another year of arbitration eligibility left and will therefore remain under Yankee control in 2012 if they tender him a contract. I like this move, and I believe that it is a good first step in the Yankees “Plan B.” They need to fortify the entire roster, get Andy Pettitte to come back, and then address the hole in the starting rotation on their own terms. There is no reason to run out and make a move for a starter in a panic when you are bringing back every key player from a 95 win club.
Some think that this means Jesus Montero will be traded, but I see it more as insurance for the club if Montero struggles out of the gate. He will serve as a placeholder for Jesus much like Bengie Molina was for Buster Posey in 2010. Why Martin? This is what i said when he was first mentioned as a non-tender candidate:
Martin’s career has evaporated over the last two seasons, but he would likely represent an upgrade defensively behind the plate over every catcher that the Yankees have, and he still has some pop in his bat. He could take the Cervelli role in the 3-headed Yankee catching monster while allowing Jesus Montero to ease onto the roster slowly. If the Yankees get lucky, he could revert back to his old self and become an extremely valuable trade chip or allow the Yankees to explore trading some of their catching assets.
Those of you who have been complaining about the Yankees’ defense behind the plate should be excited, as Martin represents a marked improvement over what the club had back there in 2010. If he recovers any of his bat, he will go from being a decent piece to being a valuable asset.
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