Dodgers Must Make Decision On Russell Martin

The Sports Xchange/CBSSPORTS.COM

Catcher Russell Martin is working out in Montreal with a personal trainer. He has started to run on a low-impact treadmill and expects to be able to resume full weight-bearing running in the “next couple of weeks.” His agent, Matt Colleran, said he “absolutely” expects Martin to be ready by spring training.

It’s a glowing report card, and good news that Martin won’t need surgery from the freaky and painful season-ending hip injury he suffered in early August.

But even a glowing report card doesn’t guarantee he’ll be back with the Dodgers. Martin’s numbers were nearly identical to 2009, and after making $5.05 million last year, a likely arbitration raise would be around $6 million.

That’s a lot of money for a player whose offense and defense has been in declined for 2 1/2 years and is now an injury risk.

If the Dodgers look to the free agent market for a catcher, the biggest names are Victor Martinez and John Buck. Miguel Olivo, who had a breakthrough year for Colorado, became a free agent after Blue Jays acquired him in a trade with the Rockies, then declined to pick up his option. Yorvit Torrealba declined his option from the Padres.

In August, the tandem of Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis showed for a month how much the Dodgers missed Martin. Then Rod Barajas arrived on a waiver claim in late August, and Ellis hit dramatically better in September, and suddenly the Dodgers looked respectable in that position.

It’s the toughest decision for the team, potentially parting ways with Martin, who was the face of the franchise going into the 2008 season.

The Dodgers have until Dec. 2 to decide.

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