Blue Jays finalize 5-year, $82 million deal with Russell Martin
Free agent catcher Russell Martin and the Toronto Blue Jays finalized an $82 million, five-year contract on Tuesday.
A three-time All-Star, Martin hit .290 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI last season, while also helping the Pirates to a second straight playoff berth.
He gets $7 million next year, $15 million in 2016 and $20 million in each of the final three seasons. Toronto announced the deal a day after Martin took a physical.
The 31-year-old Martin turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Pirates last Monday after completing a $17 million, two-year deal. By signing Martin, Toronto forfeits its first-round pick (17th) in next June’s draft. Pittsburgh will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds.
Toronto will receive a compensatory pick if free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, who also turned down a qualifying offer, signs elsewhere.
Martin’s contract is the biggest one Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has handed out since taking over from J.P. Ricciardi in October 2009. It’s the second-biggest contract ever for the Blue Jays, trailing only the seven-year, $126 million deal given to outfielder Vernon Wells following the 2006 season.
At the end of this season, Anthopoulos acknowledged that the Blue Jays have a club policy that limits free-agent contracts to a maximum of five years.
Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Martin becomes the 21st Canadian player in Blue Jays history and the third on the active roster in addition to infielder Brett Lawrie and outfielder Dalton Pompey.
Catcher Dioner Navarro was Toronto’s lone free-agent acquisition last offseason, signing a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro is owed $5 million for 2015.
The Blue Jays also have Josh Thole, whose primary role is catching R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball.
The deal is a vote of confidence in a player who only played 111 games last season and hasn’t been an All-Star since 2011.
Martin’s contract is similar to the one Brain McCann signed with the New York Yankees last offseason. But McCann was about two years younger when he agreed to an $85 million, five-year deal.
Martin reached the major leagues with the Dodgers in 2006 and spent five years with Los Angeles before signing with the New York Yankees in 2011.