Friday, November 30, 2012


Once Russell Martin agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, I was very upset. In fact, I hadn’t been upset about a Yankee-related free agent signing since Cliff Lee chose to take less money to go back to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2011 season. I really believe the loss of Russell Martin will hurt, unless if they make a splash for, say, Carlos Santana.
Before I make my case for trading for Carlos Santana (No, not musician Carlos Santana, the catcher currently with the Cleveland Indians), I just want to elaborate how the loss of Martin hurts. People who wanted to replace Martin continued to point at his low .211 batting average. Now, the low average is certainly not a good thing, but in his time in New York he did everything else moderately well. Over the last two years, Martin posted a solid .224/.317/.405 batting line while catching at least 125 games in those two seasons. In that span, only six catchers hit more homers than he did (39), while just 10 other catchers posted higher walk rates than he did (10.7%). Add that to the fact that he’s a good defensive catcher, while the pitchers enjoy pitching to him, the Yankees will certainly miss him if they end up settling with a downgrade.

Since all the in-house/free agent options either don’t fit the bill or are just plain awful, the Yankees really don’t have a choice but to look at the potential trade market if they are intending to upgrade at the catcher position. This is where Carlos Santana comes in. Now, before I continue I want to caution everyone that this is pure speculation as of right now. Personally, I have no idea if the Indians are willing to let go of Santana.
They seem to be shopping guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Justin Masterson around, so maybe if the price is right they could do the same with Santana, and with the Winter Meetings just around the bend, anything can happen.
Acquiring Carlos Santana would be an instant upgrade at arguably the most important position on the field. In his young career, Santana, 26, has batted .247/.363/.443 in three seasons and 1459 PA’s while hitting 51 homers and driving in 177. He has suffered from knee issues in 2010, but since then he has been able to catch at least 95 games behind the plate in the last two years. Perhaps the Yankees could increase his workload to around 110-115 games and DH him in some of the others he’s not behind the dish. As for the pieces it’ll take to get him, I’d have to think catcher Gary Sanchez would be included. Cleveland also needs pitching, so I’d have to think either David Phelps or Ivan Nova would be in a trade as well, and that’s probably just a starting point, so who knows how much the Yankees will be willing to give up. Finally, money shouldn’t be a problem as he’s owed just a little over $18M over the next four years with a $12M club option for 2017.

If the Yankees don’t end up trading for Santana, which might be the case, it’ll be just about impossible to upgrade the overall game Martin brought to the Yankees the last two seasons. The Yankees being unable to pay Martin $17 million is pretty telling, as they aren’t kidding around with this $189 million plan set for 2014. Though I’d love to trade for Santana, I have an awful feeling the Yankees will settle with signing a one-year downgrade instead.

--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse

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