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.
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