The news comes according to MLB.com. Though Ned Colletti kept the door open for Martin’s return after being non-tendered, his departure always seemed like somewhat of a foregone conclusion to me. There’s no news yet on how much he signed for, and that’s largely what will make or break this choice for us. He turned down an offer of $4.2m from the Dodgers, and one would think he got at least that or more from the Yankees. If he’s getting north of $5m or so, I can’t be too upset about it – and this does at least avoid the worst-case scenario alternative of him returning to LA as a utility man, rather than a catcher. I’m actually a little surprised he didn’t choose Boston, as he’d be more likely to get regular playing time behind the plate there, but that’s no longer our problem.
What is our problem is that it’s all but guaranteed that Rod Barajas enters 2011 as the everyday catcher for the Dodgers, with Dioner Navarro probably ahead of A.J. Ellis (who still has an option left) as the backup. That doesn’t seem like a great exchange for the Dodgers, though of course much depends on how much Martin’s deal is for (which we’ll know today) and how well he recovers from his hip injury, which could take well into next season to gauge.
Regardless, Russell Martin leaves a lot of fond memories in Los Angeles. His breakout 2006 arrival, his role in the 4+1 game, his superlative 2007 and first half of 2008, the walkoff grand slam against the Pirates – there was a time when you could easily say he was the most popular Dodger. Clearly, the last 2+ years have done much to reverse that trend, but I’ll look back on his time positively, with only a slight thought of what might have been.