The Blue Jays have now officially signed catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal. It reportedly breaks down thusly:
2015: $7 million.
2016: $15 million.
2017: $20 million.
2018: $20 million.
2019: $20 million.
Now, then. From a financial perspective, backloading is always a good idea. From a budgetary and planning perspective, however, deals that are that backloaded can be a little tricky. I won’t presume to know how the Blue Jays plan to handle their business, but it’s fair to guess that they aren’t going to love having a 35 and 36-year-old catcher on the roster in 2018 and 2019 for $20 million per year.
But it sure looks like they’re leaving a ton of money available to make moves in the next year or two. Watch out, AL East.
So, have our feelings changed since yesterday’s gut punch on Martin? Were you ever disappointed?
I certainly was. But, here’s the thing: I was never disappointed that the Cubs didn’t sign Martin to this contract. You have to draw the line somewhere – discipline is a virtue that pays its dividends over time – and, for me, I probably would have put it at about five years and $70 million.
Instead, I was disappointed that the Cubs didn’t get Martin at their price. The reported four years and $64 million that I allowed myself to get a little excited about. Martin was a great fit for the Cubs right now. Don’t do the jilted boyfriend thing and deny it now because she ditched you for a guy with a better car. There’s nothing inconsistent with being (1) disappointed that the Cubs didn’t get Martin, and (2) OK with the fact that the Cubs didn’t ink Martin to that contract. The Cubs dug Martin, but they also recognize that he was not the only way they can use their resources to improve for the near and long-term.
That all said, how close did the Cubs come to getting Martin?
Nick Cafardo says the Cubs were a “close” runner-up (your favorite), and Patrick Mooney says the Cubs were willing to go north of four years and $65 million, with a five year on the table in “certain scenarios.” That sounds like a team and/or vesting option, which is also suggested by Jesse Rogers and Mark Gonzales, each of whom indicate that the Cubs – and all other interested teams – were not willing to guarantee a fifth year.
So, maybe the Cubs were close. Maybe they were close enough that the lure of playing in Canada – in Toronto, where he was born – was the difference for Martin. Or maybe Martin sees the Blue Jays as the more competitive team over the next five years.
Or maybe the monetary difference was close to $10 or $15 million, and that was too much for Martin to turn down. That’s usually how these things go, and I don’t have it in me to blame guys for taking the money while they can.
Still, it’s a bummer. We’ll see if the Cubs continue to explore catching options, or if this was always about Martin, and not necessarily “a catcher.” There are certainly some interesting options out there, especially when they are paired with incumbent Welington Castillo. It’s not quite the Martin setup, but it could be very good. Maybe better overall.
Hey! The disappointment is already fading.