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russell martin piratesWith Russell Martin very clearly a target for the Chicago Cubs this offseason (they’ve already met with him) and with me wondering whether he might be the best overall fit for the Cubs in free agency this offseason (they need pitching more, obviously, but there are tons of pitching options), it’s time to make this an Obsessive Watch. It basically already was.

  • Speaking of the Cubs targeting Martin, sources tell Patrick Mooney that he’s the Cubs’ primary target in free agency right now, and Mark Gonzales’ take on the situation sounds similar. It’s possible that the Cubs, among other teams, want to figure out whether they can get Martin before proceeding into the rest of free agency. That might not be a bad plan, given the depth of pitching options – and paucity of offensive upgrades out there. With the market for pitching looking ripe over the next 15 months, maybe pouncing on Martin – even overpaying slightly – is best strategy.
  • Even if the Cubs are looking to pounce, there is competition. Bruce Levine says the Dodgers and Blue Jays are in the mix, as well as Martin’s now-former team, the Pirates, who’ve been very open about their desire to retain Martin if possible. Those are the same three teams mentioned by Gonzales as competitors for the Cubs in the Martin race. Financially, you could raise questions about each of those teams (the Dodgers may not want to add to their record payroll (and there are rumors that they want to cut), the Blue Jays have been perceived as up against their ceiling for a while, and the Pirates don’t have quite as much payroll room as the other clubs), but it’s easy to envision scenarios where each team figures out a way to accommodate adding Martin. And those three might not be the only other teams involved when all is said and done. It’s still probably early.
  • Speaking of it being early, what are we to make of the Cubs meeting with Martin so soon in the offseason? Well, I think it does lend credence to the implication that he’s a priority for the Cubs. More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that the meeting leaked. Maybe there’s no ulterior motive there – sometimes, things leak – but I can envision a scenario where an agent wouldn’t hate the idea of his client meeting with the hot chick in town (i.e. the Cubs, whom everyone seems to think are going to spend like crazy (even though they’re probably not)) getting out there to other teams. If you wanted to play it pessimistic, you’d say that getting word out about the Cubs is designed to place pressure on another team, or teams, that Martin prefers. I think that’s probably reading too much into things, but we’ll see what happens at the GM Meetings next week. For now, I take all of this only to mean that the Cubs are sincerely and serious interested in Martin.
  • A couple tweets from Buster Olney suggesting that Martin is going to be the first major free agent to sign, and that the Cubs (to whom he’s previously predicted Martin will go) have a good reason to target him early and often:

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