Via Ken Rosenthal –
The Yankees correctly view their acquisition of outfielder Vernon Wells as one with little financial downside. But the move still raises the question of why the team wasn’t more aggressive on other players during the offseason, notably free-agent catcher Russell Martin.
Insurance from the World Baseball Classic on first baseman Mark Teixeira — money that wasn’t available to the Yankees in November — will help defray most or perhaps even all of the cost of Wells in 2013.
Martin, though, told the Yankees he was willing to accept a one-year contract in the $9 million to $10 million range, according to two major-league sources. When the Yankees balked, he agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates.
A one-year deal for Martin would not have affected the Yankees’ desire to get under the $189 luxury-tax threshold in ’14. Instead, the Yankees will enter the season with two less proven catchers, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.
Perhaps, one source suggested, the Yankees did not expect the market for Martin to develop as quickly as it did. At the time Martin signed, the Yankees had just committed $37 million over a 10-day period to one-year deals for pitchers Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, in that order.
Club officials were proceeding at a deliberate pace, checking off one need at a time. Martin might have been ahead of the Yankees’ timetable. His deal became official on Nov. 30, the same day as Rivera.
Then again, we have to remember, over the last four seasons, and 1,936 PA over that span, Martin has an OPS+ of 90. So, let’s not make it as if the Yankees let Buster Posey walk away here. (Further, Martin’s WAR for 2012 was 1.5 in 133 games.)