Pirates interested in Russell Martin, lighting money on fire

Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning that the Pirates had "significant interest" in signing free agent catcher Russell Martin, though the Yankees are still the favorites to retain his services. I've made a list of ways that the Pirates could spend money that would be worse than spending it on Russell Martin. I think it's comprehensive, but I'm not sure: 

  1. Just straight up lighting bills on fire in a huge bonfire on Federal Street. For bonus points, charge season ticket holders to attend, then feed the fire with their money in front of them.
  2. Non-tendering Jeff Karstens and Joel Hanrahan, then instead of putting that money back into the team, asking for 12 million gold coins. Fill up a swimming pool with that money, then force Andrew McCutchen to dive into it head-first Scrooge McDuck style. 

All joking aside, here are some real facts about Russell Martin: 

  1. He hit .211/.311/.403 last year, which means that he can't really hit. 
  2. He's right-handed, so his offensive skills might not even reach those levels at PNC Park.
  3. He'll be 30 in February so he's not really young. 
  4. He made $7.5 million last year and the Yankees are interested in him, so he's not really cheap.
  5. He threw out a career-low 24% of base stealers last year. That's just barely below the league average of 25%, though I suppose the Pirates CS% of negative a million infinity probably dragged the league average down a bit.

Everyone talks about the defense, but even if he bounces back up from 24% CS last year, it won't matter if the Pirates refuse to hold runners on base again. So he's an aging right-handed catcher with declining offensive value and defensive skills that will be of dubious help to the Pirates. He's basically a younger Rod Barajas that's probably more likely to be a minor disaster than an abject one. 

Pirate fans like to joke (or to seriously complain) about the team not spending enough money, but the Pirates poured gasoline on and put a flint to $11 million last year in the form of the Clint Barmes contact, then took an extra $4 million and just ran it through the shredder in the form of the Barajas contract. If they sign Martin this winter, they're going to waste $20 million over two years on three players that are barely better than replacement value and who offer no tangible upgrades over the much cheaper internal options the Pirates have. 

The Pirates have money to spend. The Pirates do not have money to waste. If they sign Russell Martin, it's a pretty good indication that they can't tell the difference between the two. That's a really, really bad thing.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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