Now that Russell Martin is a free agent after failing to agree to a long-term deal with the New York Yankees prior to the 2012 season, the Yankees are showing interest in free agent Mike Napoli, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Napoli, 31, hit .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI this past season with the Texas Rangers. In addition to playing catcher, Napoli has spent time at first base and designated hitter. Though Napoli is considered the top catcher on the free agent market, his production dropped drastically from 2011 when he hit .320 with a career highs of 30 home runs and 75 RBI.
Martin, 29, also saw a drop in production from 2011. In his first season with the Yankees, he hit .237 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI. This past year, his home run total increased to 21, but a slow start to the season dropped his average to just .211 with 53 RBI.
Though their statistics were similar this past season, Martin hit just .161 in nine postseason games and has a .200 batting average in his postseason career. Napoli, however, has a .272 career postseason batting average and hit .328 with three home runs and 15 RBI to help the Rangers advance to the World Series in 2011. After New York struggled to hit this past postseason, Napoli's playoff production makes him even more valuable.
Talks ended with Martin in February after the Yankees made a final offer of three years and $20 million. Martin believed he could earn more after the 2012 season, so the two sides agreed to delay contract negotiations until after the season.
The Yankees are looking to lower the team's payroll under $189 million by 2014, so general manager Brian Cashman would prefer to sign players to one-year deals this offseason. However, with a weak crop of free agent catchers available, both Napoli and Martin could look to cash in with multi-year deals.
New York's division rival, the Boston Red Sox, have also shown interest in signing Napoli this offseason.
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