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Russell Martin: Letting Me Walk, Signing McCann Was ‘Expensive Mistake’

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Russell Martin (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Russell Martin (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After the 2012 season, with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner watching the team’s finances closely, New York decided not to re-sign catcher Russell Martin.

The 31-year-old signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates, and proceeded to hit 15 homers in Pittsburgh in 2013.

With Martin no longer on the Yankees, the Bombers got very limited production out of the catcher position in 2013, which prompted general manager Brian Cashman to ink seven-time All-Star Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract.

Looking back on it, Martin believes that the Yankees made an “expensive mistake” by letting him walk back in 2012.

“It becomes an expensive mistake, no question,” Martin told the New York Post on Monday. “They can’t turn back the clock. They went and got a good guy who, offensively, puts up better numbers than I have and so (it) costs a lot of money. I love McCann. They got a good one.”

Martin maintains that he is not bitter about the Yankees’ decision not to retain him. But it’s clear that he wanted to return to the Bronx after two years with the club. And truth be told, the Yanks could have used his bat last season.

“Personally, I thought it was a mistake,” Martin told the newspaper. “There are no hard feelings. I definitely didn’t feel like it was in the general manager’s hands at that point. I always believed Cashman and (assistant GM Billy) Eppler and the coaching staff did want me back. I had some presence and a good impact on the team.

“But the money doesn’t come from them, and I felt at the time, they had different priorities and I wasn’t at the top of the list.”

Martin kept an eye on the Yankees’ spending spree this offseason, and he freely admits that this team will be a handful to deal with. He’s impressed with the influx of talent, to say the least.

“I think the smart move is not to repeat a mistake,” Martin told the New York Post. “I think they paid the price for not acquiring an everyday catcher — or keeping one — and they went and got a good one this year … They went and got some help in the outfield. (Carlos) Beltran is a stud. And they got some pitching. They went and spent the money on areas they felt they needed help.

“But the key is they didn’t repeat the mistake they made in the past.”

McCann has been a far superior player to Martin throughout his career. In 2013, the longtime Brave batted .256 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 102 games. He posted an impressive .336 on-base percentage.

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