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Pirates sign free agent catcher Russell Martin

The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signing of free agent catcher Russell Martin to a two-year contract through the 2014 season. The announcement was made by Pirates Senior Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington.

The 29-year-old Martin spent the 2012 season with the New York Yankees and established a career high in home runs (21) while appearing in 133 games for the A.L. East champs. His 128 games behind the plate ranked fifth among all Major League catchers and his 21 homers ranked sixth among backstops. He also ranked third among American League catchers in fielding percentage (.994) and was one of the three finalists in the voting for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

Since making his debut with the Dodgers in 2006, Martin has thrown out a Major League leading 216 runners attempting to steal (according to the Elias Sports Bureau), while ranking second overall with a 3.79 Catcher's ERA in that time. A threetime All-Star (2007, 2008, 2011), Gold Glove Award winner (2007) and Silver Slugger (2007), Martin leads Major League catchers in games (777) and innings caught (6573.2) over the last six years (2007-2012). He also ranks third among all catchers in throwing out runners since 2007, nabbing 184-of-611 (30%) potential base stealers.

"With the signing of Russell Martin, we have acquired a quality defensive catcher who is a disciplined hitter that adds power to our lineup," said Huntington. "He also brings experience, leadership and a strong desire to compete and win to our organization."

The right-handed hitting Martin was originally selected by Los Angeles in the 17th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut with the Dodgers in 2006. In his seven big league seasons, Martin has recorded a .260 batting average, 93 home runs, 418 RBI and a .352 on-base percentage. His 92 home runs and .355 on-base percentage as a catcher in that time rank sixth among all Major League backstops. In addition, Martin is first among active catchers with 80 career stolen bases.

A corresponding roster move will be announced later today to make room for Martin.

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