Stats Corner: What price will Pirates pay to keep Martin?
Russell Martin's two-year, $17 million contract is the largest free agent deal in Pirates history — and the best bargain of general manager Neal Huntington's career.
Martin has been the fifth-best catcher in the game since 2013 as measured by wins above replacement (WAR), a comprehensive gauge of a player's offensive, defensive and baserunning skill. He has provided the Pirates with about $38 million in value — more than double his actual salary.
The Pirates surely will need to give Martin a raise if they want to keep the impending free agent. But what sort of performance should they expect from Martin at age 32 and beyond, and how much should they be willing to pay?
Martin could command a four-year deal this winter given his sterling defensive play and career-best .416 on-base percentage in 2014. He figures to be worth about 8.6 WAR during the 2015-17 seasons, according to the Oliver projection system on Fangraphs. One WAR is the equivalent of about $5.5 million on the free agent market, and salary inflation boosts MLB paychecks by about 5 percent per season.
To extend their best catcher since at least Jason Kendall, the Pirates could end up breaking Kendall's franchise-record $60 million guaranteed contract signed in 2000 (though Andrew McCutchen's contract includes no-brainer club options that will push Pittsburgh's commitment higher). If Huntington can keep Martin for the rumored price of four years and $40 million, it would be another bargain.
Martin's projected WAR
Year WAR Cost
2015 3.2 $18.5M
2016 2.9 $17.6M
2017 2.5 $15.9M
2018 2.2 $14.7M
Total 8.6 $66.7M
If Martin moves on and former first-rounder Tony Sanchez takes over, the Pirates would save cash but take a hit in the field. Sanchez projects to be worth 1.6 WAR in 2015 — half as valuable as Martin.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.