Russell Martin may not be the player he once was, but he would be a veteran presence at a position with a lot of inexperience.
In theory, the catcher position is taken care of throughout the foreseeable future. The Oakland Athletics will be sending top prospect Sean Murphy as their starter, with another rookie, Austin Allen, as his projected backup. Following that duo is another rookie, Jonah Heim. Yes, the A’s would not need to worry about finding a backstop if that trio develops as hoped, but young catchers often struggle.
Adding a veteran catcher, like Martin, to the mix would presumably help the transition to the majors. He had settled into a backup role with the Dodgers last season, producing a relatively uninspiring .220/.337/.330 batting line in 249 plate appearances, hitting five doubles and six homers. That lack of production, coupled with his age, likely explains why Martin remains a free agent.
However, there is still something that Martin can offer. As a presumed third catcher on an expanded roster, he can fill a role as a veteran mentor for Murphy, helping him through the rigors of the season. Martin has also spent time at third over the past few years, making him a possible option if Matt Chapman needs a day off.
Sometimes, a player’s value goes beyond what they can provide on a stat sheet. That would be the case with Russell Martin, as his veteran presence could pay dividends for the Oakland Athletics.