That Russell Martin is now a member of the New York Yankees saddens me. Martin was the first of the Los Angeles Dodgers' young core of players to gain national acclaim, making All-Star teams in both 2007 and 2008. Though Martin has struggled in the past two seasons, it would have been nice to see him return to the club for at least another season. However, the Dodgers made the right move in their decision to non-tender their star catcher.
Martin made $5.05 million in 2010, and hit .248/.347/.332 for the Dodgers, but he missed the final two months after a labral tear in his right hip. Had the Dodgers offered Martin salary arbitration, he was in line to make as much as $6 million in arbitration, and at the very least would have likely been able to at least match his 2010 salary in 2011. The two sides negotiated leading up to the December 2 tender deadline, and were relatively close to a deal.
The Dodgers offered a $4.2 million base salary, plus incentives, while Martin's camp was seeking $5 million. The two sides couldn't close the gap, and the Dodgers non-tendered Martin, making him a free agent. Before the tender deadline, the Dodgers tried to trade Martin to the Yankees, but the deal fell through. That alone was a sign that a team wasn't willing to pay Martin what he would have received through arbitration.
Martin's deal with the Yankees, per the Associated Press, calls for a $4 million base salary, which is less guaranteed money than offered by the Dodgers. He can also make up to $1.375 million in performance bonuses, which would put the deal slightly above the maximum of $5.3 million offered by the Dodgers. News also came out today that Martin will have surgery next week to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, which just adds another layer of risk to the deal.
The fact is, the Dodgers made a fair offer to Martin, at his market value, and he thought he could do better on the open market. It turns out he could, but by a whopping $75,000, that is if he can catch 120 games in 2011. Given the hip problem, and now the right knee surgery, that remains to be seen.