One of the bigger names on the free agent market is catcher Russell Martin, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Martin is a former Los Angeles Dodgers that is coming off one his best seasons of his career, and is considered the best catcher on the market. He hit .290 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs to go along with a .402 on-base percentage. The Dodgers have been one of four teams reportedly interested in the Canadian catcher.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Dodgers new president of baseball operations may have a soft spot for Martin:
New Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is said to be an admirer of Martin.
Friedman was hired from the Tampa Bay Rays, where he was unable to pursue big-name free agents. With a deeper pocket in Los Angeles, the front office leader could finally get a catcher he covets. The Dodgers join the Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays as the four teams interested in Martin’s services and all teams are expected to meet with him. On Wednesday the Pirates acquired Francisco Cervelli from the New York Yankees as an insurance policy in case they can’t re-sign the former All-Star catcher.
Martin spent the first five seasons of his career in Los Angeles, where he was a two-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and a Silver Slugger winner. He was a part of the back-to-back NL West champion teams in 2008 and 2009. With the Pirates, Martin helped the team reached their first postseason berth in 20 seasons by being one of the leaders.
The Dodgers used a trio of A.J. Ellis, Drew Butera and Tim Federowicz for most of the starts at catcher last year, but none showed the offensive prowess that Martin possesses. Ellis has been the starter for the past three seasons and has developed a strong relationship with ace Clayton Kershaw. The left-handed Kershaw publicly asked for the team to bring back Ellis. Signing Martin would likely mean that Ellis would become a backup and Kershaw’s personal catcher.