(CBS) The Cubs will seriously pursue catcher Russell Martin in free agency, CBSSports.com MLB insider Jon Heyman reported Wednesday, citing team sources.
Chicago’s biggest priority will be adding an ace pitcher — there’s mutual interest between the Cubs and Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer will be on the radar too, according to reports — but finding a steady battery mate for a staff with several young pitchers is also a need.
Martin is undoubtedly the best catcher on the open market. With the Pirates this past season, he hit .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs and had a strong .402 on-base percentage, a metric the Cubs struggled mightily in. Martin is also highly regarded for his defensive skills and work with pitchers.
The Dodgers are also expected to be a suitor for Martin, and the Pirates will work to retain him, Heyman reported. Pittsburgh already made a “multi-year proposal” to Martin this past season that he didn’t accept, according to Heyman. The Pirates extended a one-year qualifying offer worth $15.3 million recently, but Martin’s expected to turn that down and listen to all interested teams.
Martin’s reportedly seeking a five-year deal. Brian McCann ($85 million) and Yadier Molina ($75 million) have signed five-year contracts in recent seasons, and Martin’s haul figures to be in the ballpark of theirs.