KANSAS CITY -- The final innings of the 2014 Major League Baseball season will play out here in the next 36 hours; meanwhile, executives from 28 other teams and dozens of agents are lining up for the start of the offseason, like runners lining up for the opening gun of the winter marathon.
There is enormous curiosity within the industry about how many dollars will be paid out in the pitching market, given the relatively high volume of elite starters that will be available in one way or another over the next 13 months. Will Max Scherzer get offers of greater than $144 million (which is how much he reportedly turned down from the Tigers in the spring)? How much will Jon Lester get? Will the Reds seriously consider trading Johnny Cueto, who is headed toward free agency next fall? Will the Nationals be able to lock down Jordan Zimmermann? Will some agents try to move quickly to grab a share of the available dollars, in anticipation of what could be a pitching market depression by late December?
No such questions hover over Russell Martin, who might be the best-positioned player in the free-agent market this fall, because he is a one-of-a-kind luxury item. He is the Lamborghini of the catching market.
Martin will be 32 at the outset of the 2015 season, coming off a year in which he had a .402 on-base percentage, fourth best among all hitters with at least 400 plate appearances.