Catcher Russell Martin a Highly Sought-After Free Agent?

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIINovember 2, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13:  Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees reacts after he struck out in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game One of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 13, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Russell Martin hit an atrocious .211 this season, but that shouldn't stop him from being one of the most coveted options at the catcher position this offseason, opines Jon Heyman of

Heyman reports that the New York Yankees have no intention of extending a qualifying offer of $13.3 million towards Martin, so it's a near guarantee that he'll be testing the free-agent market.

With the options of Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz being picked up by the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively, the catching class is exceptionally weak.

Because of this, the Yankees may look to bring Martin back on a shorter, cheaper deal than the three-year, $20 million deal he was offered this past offseason.

There are a few other options that are capable of playing 125-plus games at catcher.

The biggest names include A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli, while guys like David Ross, Miguel Olivo and Yorvit Torrealba are also available.

Heyman believes that Martin will be the most coveted because he is just 29 years old, because he has shown power in his career and because he was a Gold Glove finalist this season.

If that's the case, the Yankees may have competition in luring him back to the Bronx.

The Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays could all be seeking to upgrade at catcher this offseason.

Should the Yankees miss out on re-signing Martin, they don't necessarily have to look to the free-agent pool.

While it seems to be speculation at this point, Bleacher Report's own Jake Singer believes that Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins could be an option for Brian Cashman. As could McCann, even though his option was just exercised.

Mauer would obviously be the more expensive of the two, but his production is probably better at this point in their respective careers.

If Martin is really as highly-coveted as Heyman seems to believe, then the Yankees may have no choice but to look elsewhere to find a new catcher for next season.