TORONTO (AP) — A person with knowledge of the deal says the Toronto Blue Jays and free agent catcher Russell Martin have agreed to a five-year, $82 million contract.
Martin took a physical Monday and the Blue Jays are expected to finalize the deal Tuesday, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.
Even though the deal was not yet finalized that didn’t stop Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman from tweeting out a message Monday afternoon welcoming Martin to the team.
A three-time All-Star, Martin hit .290 with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs last season, while also helping the Pirates to a second straight playoff berth.
The 31-year-old Martin turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Pirates last Monday after completing a $17 million, two-year deal. By signing Martin, Toronto forfeits its first-round pick (17th) in next June’s draft. Pittsburgh will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds.
Toronto will receive a compensatory pick if outfielder Melky Cabrera, who also turned down a qualifying offer, signs elsewhere.
Martin’s contract is the biggest one handed out by Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has handed out since taking over from J.P. Ricciardi in October 2009. It’s the second-biggest contract ever for the Blue Jays, trailing only the seven-year, $126 million deal given to outfielder Vernon Wells following the 2006 season.
At the end of this season, Anthopoulos acknowledged that the Blue Jays have a club policy that limits free-agent contracts to a maximum of five years.
Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Martin would be the 21st Canadian player in Blue Jayshistory, and the third on the active roster. Toronto also has infielder Brett Lawrie and outfielder Dalton Pompey.
Catcher Dioner Navarro was Toronto’s lone free-agent acquisition last winter, signing a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro is owed $5 million for 2015.
The Blue Jays also have Josh Thole, whose primary role is catching R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball.
The deal is a big vote of confidence in a player who only played 111 games last season and hasn’t been an All-Star since 2011.
Martin’s contract is similar to the one Brain McCann signed with the New York Yankees last offseason. But McCann was about two years younger when he agreed to an $85 million, five-year deal.
Martin reached the major leagues with the Dodgers in 2006 and spent five years with Los Angeles before signing with the New York Yankees in 2011.
Also Monday, the Blue Jays hired former All-Star Brook Jacoby as their fourth hitting coach in four seasons. He replaces Kevin Seitzer, who left Toronto last month to take the same job with Atlanta.
Jacoby, who coached with Cincinnati in 2013 and was a minor league instructor with Texas last season, was asked about Martin during a conference call Monday.
“He did bring a lot for Pittsburgh, not only offensively but his relationship with the pitchers and how well he worked the pitchers against hitters,” Jacoby said. “I got to see it first-hand.”
Toronto went 83-79 last season and finished out of the playoffs for a 21st straight season, the longest active drought in baseball.
The Blue Jays open their 2015 spring schedule by hosting Pittsburgh on March 3. Toronto visits the Pirates the following day.