First Pitch: Martin's bad year could be good

August, 9, 2012
8/09/12
6:00
AM ET
Chris Stewart is not an everyday catcher. Francisco Cervelli has been doing his daily work at Triple-A all season. Austin Romine's back is still a big issue.

Which leaves for an interesting question: Who replaces free agent Russell Martin next year? Well, maybe Russell Martin.

The Yankees have wanted to keep Martin. In spring training, the Yankees and Martin's representative finished off preliminary talks on what essentially would have been a new contract for this season and a two-year extension. A deal was never completed and it looked as if, with a good season, Martin could be a goner.

With the dearth of catchers and the Yankees' desire to fall under $189 million in payroll by 2014, there was a strong feeling that Martin could end up with another team after this year and the Yankees would look for a cheaper alternative.

But on the way to Martin fleeing, something happened -- Martin forgot how to hit. He is currently trying to eke over .200.

The Yankees still like Martin, who is just 29. He plays good defense and Joe Girardi often praises his toughness, which is a nice catcher-to-catcher compliment.

So now, the question is: Will Martin end up taking one-year deal from the Yankees? They could offer him arbitration, which would mean a raise over his $7.5 million for this season. They also could talk about a multiyear contract, though, Martin's leverage seems a little diminished.

The overall point is that Martin's bad season could make him a Yankee longer because there might not be an overwhelming deal out there this winter that would make the Yankees pause and think about $189M/2014.

UP NOW: Wallace Matthews' column on the ugly win that was beautiful to the Yankees.

ON DECK: The Yankees and Tigers finish up this four-gamer with Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.19) facing Doug Fister (6-7, 3.52). Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET. Then it is off to Toronto for three. Wally will have you covered from both locales.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who do you want as your catcher for next year?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .285
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 61
RB. Gardner 78
OPSB. Gardner .779
ERAH. Kuroda 3.94
SOM. Tanaka 135