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Bob Nutting: Pirates to make run at Russell Martin

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Kevin C. Cox

Bob Nutting says the Pirates will "stretch" their payroll to sign Russell Martin, Rob Biertempfel reports.

“Russ Martin has been a priority for the organization,” Nutting said Wednesday. “As we've made priorities, we've found opportunities to stretch. He's an example of a player we're going to need to do what we can. We're going to need to stretch. We're probably going to go beyond what a rational deal is. He's a player who we love and respect and we hope he's back.”

I'd still be shocked if the Pirates re-signed Martin, but since we're now officially in hot stove season, this seemed worth mentioning. (The stove is already roaring, too -- Lyle Overbay says he's likely to retire!)

I'm not sure how I feel about the campaigning some folks are doing for the Pirates to re-sign Martin and Edinson Volquez. In the last two offseasons, the Pirates have shown an amazing ability to buy low. (Martin. Volquez. Mark Melancon. Francisco Liriano. Heck, A.J. Burnett.) Imagine you're great at renovating houses. Which is smarter -- paying market value for a house in perfect condition, or finding a fixer-upper in a great neighborhood? If you believe in your ability to renovate, you're probably going to come out way ahead by doing the latter. The Pirates are going to be in a strange position this offseason where they'll have to pay market value for players whose values will only be high because the Pirates gave them great shots at succeeding.

The flip side of that, though, is that it's possible Martin is such an important and unique player that he's worth paying market value for. There won't be any buy-low catchers who can do what Martin does behind the plate and with the pitching staff. The choice is really between Martin and a huge downgrade, which will force the Bucs to compensate elsewhere. So if the Pirates let him leave, they'll be hard-pressed to replace him, even if they're great renovators. Letting Volquez depart is one thing. Letting Martin leave might be another. I'd love it if the Pirates brought him back, and they definitely need to spend more money in general. But they'll have to buy relatively high for him, and that's tricky, given that his next contract will likely carry him into his mid-30s.