If Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin and GM Ned Colletti are both telling the truth, there is a major communication breakdown going on behind the scenes. Martin made claims in the Los Angeles Times today that Colletti has yet to approach his agent about a contract extension. Colletti claims otherwise and says that he was rejected when he brought up talks of an extension. Then again, when you look at Martin’s statements closely, you can begin to see what may have happened,
“It’s not up to me and (agent Bob Garber). It’s up to the team. If the team wants to offer something legitimate, it’d be idiotic not to look at it”.
This quote seems to imply that Martin was lowballed by the front office…which in itself, isn’t hard to believe. Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt is jokingly known around town as Frank McCheap due to his reluctancy to sign big name free agents to big time contracts. Here we have a dilemma. By all means, Martin has done everything he could’ve possibly done to earn the money. He’s already one of the best catchers in all of baseball, was the most consistent offensive threat the team had last season, handles the pitching staff extremely well, is incredibly durable, was an all-star and is a Gold Glover behind the plate…yet McCourt and Colletti are trying to weasel him behind closed doors. What more do you want from him? What else does he have to prove to you McCourt and Colletti? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the Dodgers front office should do whatever it takes to lock this guy up long-term.
A catcher is the backbone of a team. As I just mentioned, they make an impact on more than one dimension of the game. Not only is Martin everything you could want from a catcher, he’s young and is a clubhouse leader. Many would say that he is the heart and soul of the team. I don’t know how true that is since I’ve never been in the clubhouse but regardless, it’s pretty plain to see that he’s a valuable asset to this Dodgers team and is a major piece of the championship puzzle. If it were up to me, I’d take a look at whatever a guy like Joe Mauer, Brian McCann or Victor Martinez just signed for (if they any of them recently signed extensions) and try to lock Martin up to a similar deal, hopefully buying out a few years of arbitration in the process. A catcher like Martin will make a literal killing in arbitration. The team won’t even have a case to make against him if he continues to play at the pace that he set for himself last season.
I suppose Colletti’s one saving grace is time. There is no rush to lock Martin up for years to come because he already is locked up for years to come. He still has to go thru his arbitration years by which time you’d think the front office would have a deal cooked up for him. The Dodgers shouldn’t be strapped for cash. McCourt has always said that the team should have a budget around $100 million. I may be wrong but I think the Dodgers’ current player budget is maxed out at $85 million. It’s always nice to wait on making major deals like that just in case Martin suffers an injury sometime down the road (knock on wood) but the longer the front office waits, the more Martin will feel unwanted and disrespected and may eventually resolve to test free agency. You take your chances when you hesitate and lets just hope that the Dodgers front office knows what they are doing. Russell Martin is not a player that the Dodgers can afford to lose down the road. If he’s talking to newspapers about an extension, it would be a good idea to get something done.