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Blue Jays in hunt to sign catcher Martin

Blue Jays in hunt to sign catcher Martin

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays reportedly are one of the finalists for the services of free agent Russell Martin.

According to multiple online reports, the Blue Jays have expressed interest in the 27-year-old catcher. The Red Sox, Yankees and Rockies are among the other teams reportedly interested.

The Blue Jays have two catchers -- youngster J.P. Arencibia and veteran Jose Molina -- under control for next season, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos has left the door open for a possible upgrade behind the plate.

Anthopoulos wouldn't comment specifically about the Martin rumors, but he did say his club would have interest in a player with that type of skill set.

"If there's a player out there that can give us that insurance but also the upside of performance, then that's certainly something we're going to explore," the 33-year-old GM said of the possibility of adding another catcher to the roster.

"Right now, we know we have Arencibia and Molina in that role -- we're prepared to go that route -- but if there's a chance to upgrade with someone ... who has performed and we still can continue to develop Arencibia, we'll certainly look into it."

Martin, who recently was non-tendered by the Dodgers, appears to be that type of candidate.

The native of Montreal took the Major Leagues by storm when he made his debut during the 2006 campaign at age 23. During his first three seasons with Los Angeles he averaged .285, 14 home runs and 74 RBIs in 142 games per season.

The heavy workload behind the plate caught up to him in 2009, though. The past two years, Martin has seen his production drop to .249, with six home runs and 40 RBIs in 120 games per year. He also is coming off a labral tear in his right hip, which is one of the main reasons the Dodgers cut ties instead of giving Martin a raise on the $5.05 million he earned in 2010.

Martin's recent struggles and battles with injury could force him to settle for a part-time role. If that's the case, the Blue Jays would be very interested in the free agent because it wouldn't stunt the growth of Arencibia.

There isn't a lot left to prove at the Minor League level for the 24-year-old Arencibia. Last season with Triple-A Las Vegas, he hit .301 with 33 home runs and 85 RBIs en route to winning the MVP of the Pacific Coast League.

Toronto would like to see how the native of Miami responds to more playing time in the Major Leagues. It remains to be seen whether Martin would be willing to accept a timeshare or if he will continue looking for a full-time gig.

"There are certainly ways to split up the catching duties, whether it's four games for one and three for the other," Anthopoulos said when asked if it would be difficult to attract a free-agent catcher with Arencibia waiting in the wings.

"I think there are ways around that. Ultimately, is it more attractive than what the other alternatives -- or options -- might be for someone? That remains to be determined."

If the Jays are able to sign Martin, it also would increase the versatility of what is already an athletic club. Martin has spent the vast majority of his Major League career behind the plate, but his athleticism suggests he could transition well to second or third base.

"Anybody who is athletic enough to play other positions, if they offer you that versatility, I think any team would look into that," Anthopoulos said.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["hot_stove" ] }