The Blue Jays have made a big strike in the free-agent market, signing catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract. The deal was first reported by Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com adding contract details.
Martin, who was said to be looking for a five-year deal since the beginning of free agency, drew significant interest from the Cubs, Dodgers and Pirates, with many believing that the Cubs were the clear frontrunners to sign him. A report last night indicated that the Cubs were making progress on a deal in the four-year, $64 million range with Martin, but it appears as though the Jays upped their offer to a five-year deal in order to lock up the coveted catcher.
Martin, an Ontario native, went to high school in Montreal and will play in his native country through his age-36 season. His addition will likely cause the Jays to either move Dioner Navarro to designated hitter or trade him, meaning that more moves are likely coming in Toronto.
In 111 games for the Pirates last season, Martin hit .290/.402/.430 with eleven home runs and 67 RBI. The three-time All-Star has a career .259/.354/.399 line with 119 home runs in nine major league seasons with the Dodgers (2006-2010), Yankees (2011-2012) and Pirates (2013-2014).