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Dodgers elect to non-tender Russell Martin; reach deal with Rod Barajas [Updated]

If there was no right answer, at least there is finally an answer.

The Dodgers elected to non-tender catcher Russell Martin on Thursday, leaving him a free agent.

The Dodgers were apparently attempting to trade Martin right up against the 9 p.m. deadline before electing not to offer him a contract.

[Updated:] After officially passing on Martin, the Dodgers promptly reached an agreement with catcher Rod Barajas, The Times' Dylan Hernandez reported. It is for one year, pending a physical.

Barajas, 35, was a late-season pickup for the Dodgers last season, hitting .297 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 64 at-bats. Including his time with the Mets, he had 17 home runs and 45 RBI on the season.

If they had signed Martin, he would have been eligible for arbitration and probably would have earned at least $6 million. He made $5.05 million last season. He has been their regular catcher for the last five seasons.

Hernandez reports that Martin's last offer to the Dodgers was for $5 million, with another $1 million in incentives.

Martin, 27, is now free to negotiate with any team willing to take a chance on his returning from a severe hip injury.

Martin suffered the injury Aug. 2, after awkwardly crossing home plate to avoid a tag and fracturing his hip. He did not return the rest of the season, but did not have surgery.

He has yet to start running, let alone getting in a crouch, so it is almost impossible for the Dodgers to be certain if he would be able to catch next season, or how much.

Even before the injury, his decreasing production had become a concern. He hit a career-low .248 last season, with five home runs and 26 RBI in 331 at-bats.

Martin could still re-sign with the Dodgers, and now there will be no restrictions on how much they could reduce his salary. Hernandez said the Dodgers remain interested in Martin, but as a part-time catcher.

The free-agent pool of catchers is dwindling. John Buck previously signed with Florida, and on Thursday A.J. Pierzynski re-signed with the White Sox and Jason Varitek with the Red Sox.

Miguel Olivo and Barajas were two of the few catchers still available. The only current Dodger with major league catching experience is A.J. Ellis.

As expected, the Dodgers also elected to non-tender reliever George Sherrill and outfielder Trent Oeltjen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Comments () | Archives (29)

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Right move Ned.

Only move to make, really. Martin = Paul LoDuca Act II, if you get my drift.

Had to be done, but I would like to see him brought back on an incentive laden contract.
Now it is time for Ned to offer Dioner Navarro an overpriced lengthy contract - he was non-tendered today.

I understand the move, but we are going to miss his OBP.

Ned Colletti = Kevin Malone

Martin will sign with a real organization like the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Dodgers will be stuck with Barajas at catcher.

Nice to see that Uribe was Colletti's "big addition"

This was a more difficult decision that we could have expected. If you look at his career numbers, Martin has a .365 career OBP which is significantly more than the MLB average. This is why the Boston Red Sox have been looking at him carefully. He has certainly regressed defensively which mitigates his value. I think this decision, while it had to be done, reminds us of how awful that Casey Blake trade was. Carlos Santana would have won the AL rookie of the year if he didn't get hurt. He's going to be great for the Indians which is of course, the Dodgers loss.

Right move and right again signing Barajas.

Now, all we need is a right-handed hitter, a reliable middle reliever (or Jenks? Crain?) and maybe Padilla. Whatever else is gravy.

I suspect all we could get, though, might be somebody like Matt Diaz who was non-tendered today by Atlanta.

I know it's probably hard to cut ties with a player who started in the organization, but I think the Dodgers did the right thing. As you said, Martin hasn't started running or tried to get into a crouch yet. You can't take a chance on signing a guy who may not be able to catch again.

Our long dark national nightmare is finally over. RIP Martin. Sorry you had to take the juice with your pal Eric Gagne, but that was your choice. See ya.

There is a god. Martin's just horrible.

What a sad ending to what seemed a wonderful and promising first chapter in Dodger lore. I can still see Navarro, his hand out of position, go down after that pitch hit him and this young Canadian goalie come up and stir the imagination of this city. Could it have been the million innings he caught in the All Star game that really was the turning point and beginning of the downward spiral? Perhaps. I tend to agree with the Loduca whispers, unfortunately. I was a very big Russ Martin fan and really am saddened by this necessary move. I have no problem with a core of Barajas and Ellis. It is serviceable, at best. Just another lost opportunity it seems for someone who, in this rare time of cynicism, I felt a certain bond to. Maybe it was papa Coltrane and his tears. He had great personality and was a really fun player to watch and get behind.

Well, onward and upward until the Gods give us a pass again.

CARLOS BELTRAN good move on martin would have prefered olivvo but baragas will do dodgers next move should be trade for CARLOS BELTRAN mets are goin nowhere give em bellasario an bunch of minor league prospect

Way to go Ned. Finally I can say good decision.

It is obvious that Russell is done as a major league catcher. But there was still the matter of sweating out your rationale for keeping him.

The Dodgers of 2011 just got better by subtraction. And kudos for losing Sherrill too.

Now trade fatboy for any mediocre stiff and let's call it a win win.

I don't know for certain of course but the mysterious decline of J. Martin in this era of baseball steroids reminds me of "The Needle and the Damage Done".

A hip injury for an expensive catcher with two bad years in the rear view mirror is not exactly a selling point. Ned did something right this time.

Call me crazy, but Neddie seems to be going sane.

There is a note on ESPNDeportes about a possible trade between Yankees and Dodgers, switching catchers, having Francisco Cervelli going to LA and Russell Martin to NY. Would it be just a rumor?

I don't look at his OBP as significant as he was usually batting at the end of the order and the biggest OBP factor was his walking.. He seemed, to me, to always be looking for the walk and took too many pitches. In Little League, a walk is as good as a hit as the saying goes. No, a hit can drive in a minimum of a run or move a runner to third. Matter of fact, what does a walk do with a runner on third with less than two outs? It usually brings up another weak hitter and the pitcher.


Barajas seems rejuvenated in LA. Praise the Tao.

Sign Diaz out of Atlanta and let em battle it out in Glendale? And force Ellis finally to come out of his shell, or forever stay within it.

If Barajas' ABs are limited so he remains fresh in Septmeber, we may climb out of 4th after all.

Russell Martin had some really fantastic seasons and then dropped off sharply, i for one, wonder if PHD's are involved?? Barajas is not a bad pick up considering the rest of options at the back stop position left on the table.

Barajas may or may not be an upgrade over Martin but I certainly don't think he will be any worse. I don't think they ever planned to offer Martin a contract and have just been trying to get some value for him in a trade. The fact that they couldn't doesn't bode well for Martin because it would seem there aren't any teams out there willing to pay him even the $5,000,000 he reportedly offered to sign with the Dodgers for. They may or may not find another catcher out there but given the circumstances I think they played the hand they were dealt in the best way possible. Personally, I think they planning on giving Ellis an opportunity to become the main guy while Barajas is there for back up. What the heck... if Johnson makes the team as a pitcher they can always drag him out of the bullpen and put him behind the plate for an inning or two.

I know what a lot of you are thinking -- because a lot of you have said it flat out :) -- but unless I'm mistaken, this is still America (or in Martin's case, Canada (which is actually still part of North America)), and what we practice here is the basic presumption of innocence. Many of you are convicting Martin of something in the court of public opinion. And although poor Russell may fit an unfortunate profile, I still have to think of him as a clean player (until we know otherwise). I refuse to make assumptions about him, and the references to Loduca, etc., I think are unwarranted. That said, it was clear that the Dodgers could not re-sign him at the figures indicated. The numbers just don't justify it under any circumstances, and that was before the bad hip injury. He was great for us for a while. Good luck to him.

The decision not to resign Martin was a no-brainer. Colletti must have had help making it...

Hiram that was earlier in the week

they exchanged medical records on weds

My only concern is that Martin did call a pretty good game, handled pitchers well.

Martin should have been traded awhile back when he still had value.

err, what Joe said!


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