The Seattle Mariners Were Very Much in on Catcher Russell Martin?


Some surprising information trickled out on the MLBlogs from Anthony Castrovince this morning: the Seattle Mariners were among the finalists for free-agent Russell Martin’s services.

If you didn’t know, the Mariners have a 23-year old stud catcher named Mike Zunino, whose defense is among the best in baseball. But his bat (minus the home runs) has some catching up to do– no pun intended.

In the end the 31-year old catcher signed a 5 year deal worth $82 million with the Toronto Blue Jays.

But hearing that the Mariners were in on Russell Martin is so indicative of the Mariners’ need for right-handed power.

So much that they’d be willing to make some changes to their catching position, one that seemed so secure.

Maybe the Mariners were hoping to get a guy like Martin to supplement the offense, turning the backstop into a split-time affair, with both Russell Martin and Mike Zunino getting reps at DH as well.

Especially with the thin market for hitting this offseason– with Victor Martinez and Billy Butler already signed, too– it is feasible the Mariners were looking for offensive value wherever they could find it.

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There is also that rare chance that the M’s considered signing Martin and reaping the benefits of trading Zunino in a market in need of solid backstops. But that is entirely speculative and may have no weight.

But Russell Martin ended up in Toronto, taking his career .259/.354/.399 slash line with him.

However, this news that the Mariners were in on the catcher proves how desirous the Mariners are of offensive value.

They’ve been linked numerous times this offseason to free agent right-handed hitters Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez, while Matt Kemp and Just Upton remain very real trade target possibilities.

Russell Martin won’t be a Seattle Mariner anytime soon, but the point still stands: the Mariners need offense, and they appear willing to spend to get it. Unless they’re doing what they do every offseason, giving show-me interest in free agents to say “we tried” while they end up doing nothing.

Let’s hope that’s not the case, and the M’s are in the process of bringing a bat to Seattle.