The best catcher on the free agency market is Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who is likely to end up playing somewhere else in the 2015 season, with the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead of everyone else in the race for the 31-year old.
Martin has been on the Pirates for the last couple of seasons, helping them become one of the best teams in the National League. He missed over 50 games last season, but he was also hitting a .290 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs. He also posted the highest WAR of his career, a 5.5, which makes him such a coveted commodity this offseason, which the Pirates are trying to hang on to, hoping they can keep a very good team they built for not a lot of money together.
But Martin is going to attract big contract, the kinds of which the Pirates can’t afford or simply won’t be paying. The Dodgers seem to be in a league of their own when it comes to paying players, but Martin has already played for them in the past. He’ll be staying in the National League, but all media sources and reports are suggesting that he’s a lot closer to signing with the promising Chicago Cubs than anyone else.
Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that Martin is a great fit for the Cubs, who are stacked with young position players. Catcher is a position of need for them, and everything that Martin brings to the table — the high on-base percentage, the patient at-bats, the pitch-framing, the leadership — is an area of need for the Cubs. No free agent is a more perfect match for a team than Martin is for the Chicago Cubs, at this stage of their development.
The same sentiment comes from CBS and Jon Heyman: The Cubs, expected to be a big player in the market with hopes of contending as they blend in their impressive stash of top positional prospects, surely appreciate Martin’s superb performance for the Pirates this past year, when he was one of the few players in baseball with a .400-plus on-base percentage, and also caught and threw with the best in the game behind the plate.
The Dodgers’ starting catcher last season, A.J. Ellis, played in only 93 games, hitting .191 with just three home runs. He did a lot better in the postseason, but the Dodgers, able to afford two quality players on almost every position in the lineup, are trying to upgrade there as well after an early exit.