While I’m always hesitant, short of an announcement, to say that a team is definitively out on a particular player for whom the Chicago Cubs might be vying, there are certainly indications out there that, among the four most-cited suitors for Russell Martin, the Pirates and the Blue Jays could be unlikely landing spots.
If that were true, we’d be left with the Cubs – who are courting Martin aggressively, it seems – and the Dodgers. You’re a fool to ever count the Dodgers out on a guy they want, but just how much do they actually want Martin? That’s been the subject of some debate this week, and it remains unclear just how willing the Dodgers are to go big on Martin, given their already-bloated $240ish million payroll. Jon Heyman writes about the Dodgers and Martin, and, while it’s an interesting read, it doesn’t really shine too much light on how far the Dodgers would be willing to go on Martin. For his part, Gordon Wittenmyer hears that there isn’t as much mutual interest between the Dodgers and Martin as others have reported.
Heyman does note that the Cubs’ previous meeting with Martin is “said to have gone well.” Given the energy surrounding the Cubs, the bright future, the addition of Joe Maddon, and the ability to pay Martin market rate, I’d certainly hope the Cubs’ meeting with him went well.
It remains possible that Martin makes his decision within a week or two, and, whether he choose the Cubs or the Dodgers (or another team altogether), the choice could shape the rest of the offseason for the Cubs, or at least move it at the margins.
I can’t help but wonder if we’re in a situation where the Cubs are the most aggressive suitor for Martin, but maybe they’ve limited their offer, for now, to four years (and probably something in the $15 million AAV range, though that’s just an educated guess – there haven’t yet been any reported offer terms), and Martin is seeing whether the Cubs, or another team, will push things to five years, which he’s reportedly seeking. Although I can see the value even in a five-year deal, if the Cubs have the best offer already at four years and $X, they might as well hold line until/unless forced to blink. If, however, that fifth year is what it’s going to take to land Martin, we’ll see if the Cubs have the stomach for it in the coming weeks.