Russell Martin Showing His Worth

by Brendan Panikkar | Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2015
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Russell Martin

on April 8, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

When the Toronto Blue Jays dished out $82 million over 5 years to sign Canadian catcher Russell Martin, it came as a bit of a surprise to some due to the fact Dioner Navarro was coming off a 2.0 fWAR season, the best of his career for a full season of catching. Navarro looked much better to Blue Jays fans than he actually was due to the fact that he succeeded J.P. Arencibia. As a 32 year old catcher, there were definitely some who voiced their concerns and some of them are legitimate. For all the people who were concerned about the signing, there were an equal amount and more that saw the definitive upgrade and were excited for Martin. They’re seeing the signing make an impact already.

Russell Martin‘s contract pays him $7 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016, and $20 million per season from 2017-2019. By the end of his contract Martin will be near the end of his career at age 36. The majority of the concern of the Martin signing was the amount of money at the back end of his contract for his age. There are concerns Martin will begin to breakdown and become less effective which could very well happen as he ages but Martin’s calling card is his defense. That is what he was brought over to Toronto for. Martin currently has a dWAR of 2.9, but that will continue to climb. He has thrown out 11 batters already this season. Navarro threw out 15 all of last year.

Martin has seemed to have trouble blocking some of the pitches from the Blue Jays pitching staff early on in 2015 but that is understandable as it is just over a month into catching them. That will also improve as the season moves along. As mentioned above, there is a chance Martin’s performance defensively and offensively drops with age and it will. But the one thing that should remain consistent is his defense. He also is a great pitch framer and gets lots of balls called strikes for his pitchers. We have yet to see that in 2015 but getting used to the pitching staff could be a big reason for that.

The impressive part early on in 2015 for Martin has been his bat. Martin had a fantastic 2014 season offensively for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A season ago, Martin his .290 with an incredible .402 OBP and .832 OPS. He also posted a 140 wRC+ and .370 wOBA. Early in 2015, he his hitting .295 with a .406 OBP and 1.031 OPS. His wRC+ is 182 and wOBA is .437. Many didn’t expect Martin to be as good as he was offensively a season ago. He is on pace to have an equal or better season in 2015. Things can change, but the contributions thus far have been very welcome.

Around the MLB, Martin is tied with Stephen Vogt for 1st with a 1.8 fWAR. Up against every other MLB player, Martin is the 5th most valuable player through 30 games. There is no doubt that Martin has been a fantastic upgrade over Dioner Navarro.

When the Blue Jays elected to sign Russell Martin instead of Melky Cabrera, people were a bit confused because they already had Navarro. When the Blue Jays upgraded at 3rd base by trading for Josh Donaldson they had Brett Lawrie (Lawrie was included in the trade). Fans were confused with the addition of Russell Martin at first because there were other needs to fill. Only those who understood why Martin was brought in understood the move and realizes what he could bring to the table. Now, everyone is seeing the value of having Martin. With the defense and pitch framing still a work in progress with the new pitching staff, that area of the game will only raise his value even more. Russell Martin is proving his value through the seasons first 30 games.

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Brendan Panikkar
About the Author

Brendan Panikkar is a graduate of Brock University's Sport Management program. Currently, he is the Vice-President, Customer Service at North Aware. He loves all sports but baseball and football take precedent over hockey and basketball. Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Raptors

  • Kensey Dedeus

    All the moves now have to be signing number one pitchers at all costs.David price.ets

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