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Yankees agree to terms with catcher Martin

The Yankees got their man Tuesday.

Russell Martin.

One day after being spurned by Cliff Lee, the Yankees agreed to terms with Martin, a 27-year-old catcher the team had been talking with for some time and finally was able to wrest away from other suitors, including the Red Sox.

During a conference call, general manager Brian Cashman, as is his custom before a player passes his physical, declined to comment. Should Martin, who missed the final two months of last season, pass, the Yankees will make an announcement.

The former Dodger's precise role is not known.

Cashman said in early November, after telling Jorge Posada he likely would be the designated hitter in 2011 and saying the hope was for phenom Jesus Montero to win the starting job, that he still was likely to explore the free-agent catching market.

Discussing the Yankees' catching situation at last week's winter meetings, a scout said, "They have to do something."

His thought was the Yankees couldn't take the chance of going into spring training without another viable option at catcher. Posada, at 39, is unlikely to be able to play every day, and his defensive skills have declined. There is uncertainty about Montero's receiving skills and ability to handle a veteran pitching staff, and backup Francisco Cervelli's stock in the organization dropped significantly last season.

Hence the move to sign Martin, an All-Star in 2007 and 2008 before struggling in 2009 and playing 97 games last season before a hip injury ended his year.

The Yankees are deep at catcher in the minor leagues and Montero could be used as trade bait - he was included in the deal that almost landed Lee in July - but Cashman said it would be a "rare situation" in which he would include the 21-year-old again.

"This is a guy we believe has a really high-end potential," Cashman said. "Potential means you haven't made it yet, but his track record at every level is very, very impressive. We'll be very careful [with him]."

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