The New York Yankees have signed a highly sought-after free agent. It just isn't the one they really had built their offseason plans around. Instead, the Yankees today signed free-agent catcher Russell Martin, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Martin, 27, apparently also had offers from the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. So, at least the Yankees can say they beat the Red Sox at something this offseason.
Martin is an interesting gamble. He made the National League All-Star Team in both 2007 and 2008, but his production slipped the past two seasons. This season he fractured a hip and played in just 97 games, hitting only .248 with five home runs and 26 RBI. He had 19 homers and 87 RBI in 2007.
Earlier in the offseason the Yankees had indicated that prized youngster Jesus Montero would get a chance to earn the starting catcher job. That may still be true, and Martin may simply provide insurance. He may end up splitting time with the youngster. Having Martin could also allow the Yankees to use Montero in any potential trade for a top-flight starting pitcher, now that they know they will not be acquiring Cliff Lee.