|Born: February 15, 1983
Drafted: 17th Round, 511th Overall, 2002 (Dodgers)
How Acquired: Free Agent
College: Chipola College
Agent: Matt Colleran
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Martin was one of the better catchers in baseball in his first three seasons, playing very well on both sides of the ball. He had outstanding plate discipline throughout his minor league career and most of his major league career. After those first three seasons, though, his hitting dropped off significantly and he struggled during his last two seasons in Los Angeles, leading to a non-tender. He signed with the Yankees and continued to struggle at the plate, with his plate discipline also dropping off, but he hit with more power than previously. For his career he’s had a fairly strong platoon split, posting an OPS of .830 against LHPs and .725 against RHPs. He’s a good defensive catcher, possibly one of the best in baseball if you credit the pitch-framing study published by Baseball Prospectus, which showed Martin to be excellent. For his career he’s thrown out 30% of opposing base stealers.
The Pirates signed Martin to a two-year contract worth a total of $17M, the largest free agent signing of GM Neal Huntington’s tenure. The deal called for a $2M signing bonus, $6.5M in 2013 and $8.5M in 2014. Martin will replace Rod Barajas as the team’s regular catcher.
Martin was drafted as an infielder and played third in his debut season. He showed good plate discipline but not much power.
The Dodgers moved Martin behind the plate, starting him off in advanced rookie ball. Between that level and low A, he had 31 passed balls in just 63 games, but that’s not too surprising. At the plate he continued to put up good walk and K rates, and started hitting for some power.
Martin’s average dropped in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, but his plate discipline was better than ever and he hit for solid power.
Martin had a strong season in AA, leading Baseball America to rank him the 4th best prospect in a strong system after the season.
The Dodgers called Martin up in early May and he had a strong rookie season, finishing 9th in the Rookie of the Year balloting in an extraordinary year for rookies (Prince Fielder only tied for 7th). Behind the plate he threw out 31% of base stealers.
Martin had his best pro season, starting in the All-Star Game, and winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
Martin’s power dropped off, but drew a huge number of walks.
Martin’s hitting, especially his power, dropped off dramatically.
Martin hit about the same as the year before. He continued drawing walks despite the fact that he started swinging at significantly more pitches outside the strike zone than he had previously. That trend continued over the following two years. He did throw out a career-high 39% of base stealers. He missed the last third of the season with a hip injury, then the Dodgers non-tendered him in the off-season.
Martin signed a two-year deal with the Yankees and became their starting catcher. He hit for a low average, but his power bounced back. His plate discipline, although still fairly good, dropped off. He hit dramatically better in Yankee Stadium, posting a .780 OPS there and .688 on the road.
Martin’s average continued to drop and his plate discipline continued to slip, but he hit his career high in HRs. He hit 13 of the 21 at home, but hit slightly better overall on the road (.728 OPS to .699). The low average resulted from an extremely low BABIP of .222. The reason for the low BABIP isn’t readily apparent, as Martin still runs reasonably well for a catcher. His BABIP was also low in 2011 at .252.
The Pirates are taking a risk with Martin. After two bad years in LA, the only thing that salvaged his hitting in New York was increased power. It didn’t result entirely from Yankee Stadium, but Martin’s HR/flyball ratio was extremely high in both years, far above any of his previous seasons. It’s extremely unlikely he’ll be able to keep up that power production in PNC Park.
2013: $6,500,000 (plus $2,000,000)
|Signing Bonus: $40,000
MiLB Debut: 2002
MLB Debut: 5/5/2006
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2014
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: November 23, 2004
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 6.150
|June 7, 2000: Drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 35th round, 1035th overall pick.
June 5, 2002: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round, 511th overall pick; signed on June 13.
November 23, 2004: Contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
December 2, 2010: Became a free agent.
December 14, 2010: Signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees.
November 3, 2012: Became a free agent.
November 29, 2012: Signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.