With a need for a veteran presence behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the catching position next season, Theo Epstein already has the luxury of an in-house option to fill the void left by Victor Martinez.
But in the never-ending question (and saga), of who will be playing behind, or in front, of Saltalamacchia in 2011, one option that is being overlooked is: Russell Martin.
Martin has played all of his four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting at a career .272 clip while earning one gold glove. The two-time All-Star catcher could be an option for the Red Sox as the deadline for teams to tender offers to their arbitration-eligible players is 9 p.m. on Thursday and the Dodgers have yet to tender Martin a contract.
According to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles, unless Martin agrees to a contract that would pay him far less than the $5.05 million the Dodgers paid him in 2010, the Dodgers are almost certain not to tender him, which would make Martin a free agent.
With the Dodgers unwilling to give Martin a raise after a down 2010 season, the opportunity of the 27-year-old catcher becoming a free agent is more and more likely by the day, giving the Red Sox another option out on the market.
With John Buck and Yorveit Torrealba already agreeing to deals with the Florida Marlins and Texas Rangers, the free-agent catching market was looking a little bit thin. But if you add Martin’s name to that list, even though his offensive numbers have dropped in each of his past three seasons, Martin’s upside as a young catcher, with a strong character, is someone the Red Sox would look into adding, especially since the Red Sox front office have coveted Martin for years.
On the flip side, with Martin seemingly out of Dodger Blue, Jason Varitek may be looking for a new home. A vacancy in Los Angeles could have the Sox captain calling his name. Although it would be strange for the Dodgers to hand Varitek the keys to the full-time catching position, maybe a platoon of Varitek and another free-agent catcher would do the trick for the Don Mattingly-led Dodgers.
Nonetheless, the catching situation for next season is still in flux as the Red Sox look to lock up one more catcher to replace the loss of Victor Martinez. Whether it be Martin, Varitek, or another catcher, the possibility of a Red Sox and Dodgers swap, may give both teams a new wrinkle in their clubhouse while providing a change of scenery for both players.
Only time will tell.