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Molina's deal & Martin's future

2/28/2012

The fact that Yadier Molina is about to sign a five-year deal for $70-$75 million deal is not good news for the Yankees. With the Yankees and Russell Martin having tabled talks until the offseason, the Yankees now know where the bar is and an alternative is off-the-board.

Martin, 29, is not Molina, but a case can be made he is not far off. The Yankees think very highly of his defense and his toughness with Yankees GM Brian Cashman going as far as comparing Martin to Thurman Munson. His offense is not that different than Molina's as last season Martin went .237/.324/.408, while Molina, in his best offensive season, had a .305/.349/.465 slash.

Last year, FanGraphs had Molina's WAR (Wins above Replacement) at 4.0, while Martin's stood at 3.1. So we all know Molina should be valued a little bit higher. But this new deal will likely cost the Yankees money or Martin entirely.

The Yankees, according to CBS' Heyman, were willing to go to three years and $20 million. The contract the Yankees had in mind would have been for this year and then the following two seasons. So it was essentially a two-year extension. The two sides were so far apart that Martin's agent, Matt Colleran, and Cashman spoke Friday and decided to table any further negotiations.

Now, though, the Yankees, it would seem, would have to go at least three years, taking his deal through, at minimum, 2015. The money would have to be at $8-to-$10 million, at least -- probably more with another strong year from Martin.

Molina is on the verge of signing the third largest contract for a catcher ever. Joe Mauer got $184 million recently, while Mike Piazza picked up $91 million from Mets before they went broke. Martin won't be in that neighborhood, but his deal, with a good season, has to start with at least a three in at as in $30 million or maybe a four or a five.

So when Molina signs, Martin moves up a notch with Arizona's Miguel Montero and Texas' Mike Napoli as the top catchers on the market. The Yankees have the self-imposed pressure of the $189M 2014 luxury tax limbo, which combined with Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson due big contracts soon could make for some tough decisions.

The one on Martin just got tougher.

Question: A year from now, do you think Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine or someone else is the Yankees starting catcher?