Although the Los Angeles Dodgers have a trio of catchers in Drew Butera, A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz under team control, the team was linked to free agent Russell Martin.
Martin was drafted by the Dodgers in 2002, made his MLB debut in 2006 and was with the team through the 2010 season. He then signed with the New York Yankees and spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Martin was a hot commodity in the free agent market and on Monday, agreed to a five-year, $82 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Martin’s return to Canada was a quick change of course as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday night the Chicago Cubs were believed to be the frontrunner for the catcher’s services.
While the Dodgers were also rumored to be interested in Martin, talks never got serious according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 17, 2014
Just over two weeks ago, the Dodgers were included in the group of teams who were expected to meet with Martin’s agent. However, not much was ever made of the reported meeting.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was believed to be an admirer of Martin, which further added to the speculation the big-money Dodgers would sign the coveted catcher. With Martin out of the realm of possibilities, the Dodgers must now decide if they’ll again rely on Ellis as the everyday starter or pursue a catcher via trade.
While other free agent catchers are still available, none are necessarily of the same caliber as Martin. The Dodgers have until Dec. 2 to tender contracts to Butera and Ellis, among their other salary arbitration-eligible players.