The Toronto Blue Jays have had internal discussions about signing free-agent catcher Russell Martin, per Jeff Blair of

Martin is coming off a career year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting .290/.402/.430 with 11 home runs, 67 RBI and 45 runs scored. He is easily the top catcher available in the market this winter.

While adding Martin would be an upgrade, the Blue Jays did get solid production from their catching tandem of Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole during the 2014 season.

Navarro hit .274/.317/.395 with 12 home runs, 69 RBI and 40 runs scored in 139 games. Thole hit .248 in 57 games but did have an on-base percentage of .320.

The Blue Jays recently traded away designated hitter Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers, per Gregor Chisholm of Acquiring Martin would mean that Toronto could shift the switch-hitting Navarro into the DH spot.

Thole—who will be eligible for arbitration this offseason—will likely be retained as a backup primarily because of his ability to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

While their run production numbers are similar, Martin offers a significant defensive upgrade over Navarro. Last season, Martin gunned down 39 percent of base stealers compared to the 21 percent for Navarro. According to, Martin’s defensive WAR in 2014 was 2.0. In comparison, Navarro’s dWAR was just 0.9.

The Pirates have extended Martin a qualifying offer, per Tom Singer of This means that the Blue Jays would have to surrender their first-round pick in the 2015 MLB draft if they were to sign Martin. On the flip side, Toronto could get a draft pick back if the team fails to re-sign its own free agent, Melky Cabrera.

While they may have had internal discussions about signing Martin, it’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays prioritizing this move. Toronto’s main areas in need of improvement are still at second base, outfield and the bullpen.

It’s worth noting that Martin’s great 2014 season means that he’ll be drawing plenty of interest from other teams throughout the league. The 31-year-old Canadian will no doubt be looking for a large multiyear deal and has given no indication that he would be willing to give a hometown discount to Toronto.

Considering that they already have solid production at the catching position, it’s very likely that the Blue Jays will not engage in a bidding war for Martin and will ultimately decide to allocate their resources elsewhere this winter.


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