Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The fanbase is likely to go nuts when Martin leaves town, given his stellar performance over the past two seasons. Martin’s worth to the team cannot be measured simply in offensive statistics, despite the fact he’s hitting .290 this season and currently finds himself batting third in the lineup in McCutchen’s absence.
Likewise, his worth cannot be measured by the fact that he tossed out 40 percent of baserunners last season who attempted to steal, a number that sits at 39 percent this year.
Rather, the Gold Glove-winning Martin brings immeasurable reliability to the team’s pitching staff. He is consistently regarded as one of the league’s best pitch-framing catchers and has a great rapport with every pitcher on the staff.
It’s not a stretch to say Martin has been a big part of the baseball resurrection in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, which is why it’s going to be so hard to say goodbye.
As Bleacher Report’s Dan Mennella reported in the offseason, Martin is by far the best of the bunch in terms of catchers who will be free agents in 2015. Names like Geovany Soto, Ryan Doumit and A.J. Pierzynski likely won’t command high salaries or bidding wars from teams.
Martin signed a two-year, $17 million deal to come to Pittsburgh in 2013. He will be heading into his age-32 season, which means Martin likely will be looking for a contract that will take him into retirement.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik, the Pirates can expect to have to pay Martin more than $10 million a season to keep his services here long term, something that’s just not going to happen.
But, face it, the chances of the Pirates signing Martin are legitimately somewhere between slim and none. And this is not about the Pirates being cheap. Martin will be the best catcher available in free agency and eligible to sign with any team.
The front office probably views Tony Sanchez as the catcher-in-waiting despite serious concerns about his defense. It might just be that 2015 will finally be his year, as Martin is likely to jump to whatever team offers him the most money to close out his career.