* C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) is in line for a big pay day this off-season. The Pittsburgh Pirates catcher is headed for free agency and a number of clubs with a need are interested. The Bucs took the first step in gaining a draft choice by deciding to extend a $15.3 million US qualifying offer to Martin.
But What Do I Know? … Russell Martin, Jose Bautista, Andre Dawson
By Kevin Glew
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
— The Pittsburgh Pirates intend to extend a $15.3-million qualifying offer to free agent Russell Martin, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported. Coming off one of his finest big league seasons, the Canadian catcher reportedly declined a multi-year offer by Pirates during the regular season and is likely to earn a lucrative, multi-year deal on the open market. Heyman mentions the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of Martin’s previous teams, as a likely suitor.
— I’m not sure if Toronto Blue Jays fans should celebrate today or denounce it. On one hand, Jose Bautista, who was acquired from the Pirates on August 21, 2008 for Robinzon Diaz, in arguably the best trade in franchise history, was born on this date in 1980. On the flip side, seven-time all-star Michael Young, whom the Jays swapped to the Texas Rangers for EstebanLoaiza on July 19, 2000, in arguably the worst trade in franchise history, was also born on this date, three years earlier.
— I just received a notice that Hall of FamerAndre Dawson will be signing autographs for theFergie Jenkins Foundation at the Toronto Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo that will take place from November 7 to November 9. During his prime with the Montreal Expos, Dawson was a five-tool player, but he also boasts an underrated, sixth tool – excellent penmanship. Nobody signs a nicer autograph than “The Hawk.” Google “Andre Dawson autograph” and you’ll see what I mean.
— Three of the candidates vying for the Minnesota Twins managerial position have Blue Jays links. Among other candidates, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, the designated hitter with the Jays from 1993 to 1995, is in competition with current Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale and ex-Jays coach Torey Lovullo.
— As you know, the 2014 World Series will see the Kansas City Royals battle the San Francisco Giants. According to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, nine Canadians have suited up for the Royals over the years. This list includes OF Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.), LHP Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna, BC), INF Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen) OF-DH, Matt Stairs (Saint John, N.B.), OF Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, BC), LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC), C George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.), RP Ryan Braun (Kitchener, Ont.) and C Andy Stewart (Oshawa, Ont.). Just two Canucks have played for the Giants: RHP Georges Maranda (Levis, Que.) and LHP Ken MacKenzie (Gore Bay, Ont.)
— Sean Berry, a member of the 1994 Montreal Expos, will not return as the San Diego Padres minor league hitting coordinator, according to The San Diego-Union Tribune. Berry, who played three of his 11 big league seasons in Montreal, had been a coach in the Padres’ organization for four years. Prior to that he had served as a hitting coach with the Houston Astros.
— In case you missed it, the Texas Rangers declined the $13.5-million option on former JayAlex Rios’s contract for 2015, opting to pay him a $2-million buyout instead. Rios slumped to just four home runs in 2014 and finished the season on the disabled list with a thumb injury. The buyout concludes the seven-year, $69.835-million deal that Rios signed with the Blue Jays in April 2008. Just 17 months after the ink dried on that agreement, the Blue Jays placed Rios on waivers and his contract was assumed by the Chicago White Sox. He played parts of five seasons in the Windy City before being dealt to the Rangers on August 9, 2013. In 11 big league seasons, Rios has hit .278 and has 165 home runs.
– Follow Kevin Glew on Twitter @coopincanada