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Ex-Yankees catcher Martin, Bucs reach deal

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 9:14 p.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York Yankees' Russell Martin pumps his fist as he leaves the field after celebrating his solo home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle that gave the Yankees a 2-1 win, in the 10th inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Capping three days of intense negotiations, the Pirates and free-agent catcher Russell Martin on Thursday agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract, sources told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

It is the most expensive free agent signing in franchise history.

Martin will be in Pittsburgh on Friday to take a physical and finalize the deal, which is expected to be announced in the afternoon.

Martin, 29, spent the past two seasons with the New York Yankees. He made $7.5 million last season and batted .211 with 21 home runs, 53 RBI and a .713 OPS.

With only one experienced catcher — backup Michael McKenry — on their 40-man roster, the Pirates made Martin their top offseason target. They considered going after Mike Napoli but decided he was no longer able to handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher and was better suited for the American League.

Martin gives the Pirates an instant and significant upgrade defensively. He threw out 24 percent (20 of 83) of would-be base-stealers last season. Rod Barajas, the Pirates' starter last season, threw out just 6 percent of base-stealers.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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