While the New York Yankees and Russell Martin continue negotiations, the free-agent catcher has recently visited "multiple cities" to gauge his comfort level if he were to leave, his agent, Matt Colleran, told ESPN New York on Monday.
Colleran declined to say which cities.
New York Yankees
Earlier this month, a source said at least four other clubs were interested in Martin. The Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox were the teams displaying the most interest, the source said.
“Everything is an ongoing conversation,” Colleran said. “Once Russell has all the information, we will make a decision.”
The Yankees would like to keep Martin as their full-time catcher. He is the one player they seem willing to offer multiple years. One of Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s main goals this offseason is to begin to reduce payroll so the team can fall below a $189 million payroll by 2014. Club owner Hal Steinbrenner has mandated this goal to take advantage of the luxury tax savings in the new collective bargaining agreement.
Martin, 29, may be the best defensive catcher on the market. Mike Napoli, known more for his bat than his glove, is a hybrid of a catcher and a first baseman. A.J. Pierzynski, 35, outhit Martin last year with an OPS of .827 compared to Martin’s .713.
Napoli is not an option for the Yankees, while Pierzynski is on their radar if Martin falls through.
Martin is a favorite of Yankees manager Joe Girardi because of his toughness and attention to detail behind the plate. All of the catchers on the market are expected to receive multiyear deals.
"One guy is going to do something, and then the other dominoes are all going to fall," a baseball official directly involved in the talks said.
There have been reports that talks had stopped but then heated up with Martin and the Yankees. Colleran said, from his point of view, there has been no break in discussions. He said there was no timetable on when Martin might make his final decision -- and it could happen prior to the winter meetings, which start next Monday in Nashville.
By then, the Yankees hope to have Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte back. Rivera, who turns 43 on Thursday, has already told the team he would like to return. The two sides are trying to figure out what Rivera should be paid after making $15 million last season. His season ended in May after surgery to repair ligaments in his knee.
Pettitte has yet to tell the Yankees whether he will be back. Cashman said Sunday he knows of no timetable for Pettitte’s decision, except that Pettitte told him after the season he would make it “soon.”
The Yankees did sign a catcher on Monday, inking Eli Whiteside to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. The Yankees had claimed Whiteside on waivers earlier in the winter.