Via Dan Martin –
The Yankees’ offseason spending spree caught the attention of just about everyone in baseball — including Russell Martin.
The catcher was among the first casualties of ownership’s desire to avoid paying the luxury tax this season and keep the 2014 payroll under $189 million.
That led to the Yankees being in the unusual situation of being outbid by the Pirates. After landing in Pittsburgh on a two-year deal worth $17 million prior to last season, Martin saw the Yankees ink Brian McCann this winter to finally replace him behind the plate for five years and $85 million.
“It becomes an expensive mistake, no question,” Martin told The Post before the Pirates-Yankees game at McKechnie Field was canceled by rain on Monday. “They can’t turn back the clock. They went and got a good guy who, offensively, puts up better numbers than I have and so costs a lot of money. I love McCann. They got a good one.”
McCann’s numbers slipped last year, but the Yankees are confident his left-handed swing will fit perfectly at Yankee Stadium. The 30-year-old catcher had an OPS of .796 with Atlanta a year ago, while Martin finished at .703.
And while Martin, 31, says he doesn’t dwell on his departure from the Yankees, he can’t help but think of what might have been.
“Personally, I thought it was a mistake,” Martin said. “There are no hard feelings. I definitely didn’t feel like it was in the general manager’s hands at that point. I always believed [Brian] Cashman and [assistant GM Billy] Eppler and the coaching staff did want me back. I had some presence and a good impact on the team. But the money doesn’t come from them and I felt at the time, they had different priorities and I wasn’t at the top of the list.”
Any hope the Yankees had of reaching ownership’s goal of $189 million was foiled by the failure of any of the organization’s young talent to perform at the major league level. That forced them to go after costly free agents to replenish their lineup and pitching staff this past offseason — additions Martin applauded.
“I think the smart move is not to repeat a mistake,” Martin said. “I think they paid the price for not acquiring an everyday catcher — or keeping one — and they went and got a good one this year.”
Actually, drafting Andrew Brackman instead of Jonathan Lucroy or Derek Norris was the expensive mistake…