Blue Jays offer Russell Martin a contract

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos reportedly has submitted a contract offer to Matt Colleran, agent for free-agent catcher and Toronto native Russell Martin.

Reports suggest free-spending Red Sox are front-runners for Canadian catcher

Alex Anthopoulos is hoping to finally stop Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein from getting what he wants.

The Blue Jays GM reportedly has submitted a contract offer to Matt Colleran, agent for free-agent catcher and Toronto native Russell Martin.

The 27-year-old backstop is weighing offers from Toronto, Boston, New York Yankees and a mystery team that has proposed a multi-year offer, according to the Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger.

Colleran told on Friday that it's down to the three American League East squads.

Epstein stole the spotlight at this week's winter meetings in Florida by trading for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and signing free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, a four-time all-star.

Anthopoulos might be looking to pounce on the few remaining veteran catchers after his own player, John Buck, signed on for three years and $18 million US with the Florida Marlins last month.

On Thursday, Miguel Olivo reached a preliminary agreement with Seattle after Anthopoulos acquired him in a trade with Colorado on Nov. 4. Should the deal be finalized following the catcher's physical, the Blue Jays would obtain a supplementary pick in next June's amateur draft for the Type B free agent.

At present, Toronto's catchers for 2011 are defensive specialist Jose Molina, 35, and the unproven J.P. Arencibia, 24.

Deep at catcher

Colleran told the Boston Herald this week that the Red Sox — considered the front-runner for Martin, according to — view Martin strictly as a catcher.

Boston also has two capable major league catchers under contract in veteran Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Martin is coming off a small fracture in his right hip and his offensive production has been on the decline.

In 2010, playing 97 games, he posted a batting average of .248, down from .250 the previous season and .280 in 2008. He hit a career-best 19 home runs in 2007 but swatted 13, seven and five the next three years.

Martin has played third base in the past, a position his former team — the Los Angeles Dodgers — mentioned during their failed contract discussions recently. Talks broke down after Martin reportedly sought a guaranteed $5.5 million US next season, a raise of 10 per cent from his 2010 stipend of $5.05 million.

The Dodgers' final offer is believed to have been $4.2 million guaranteed, with incentives worth between $1.5 million and $1.7 million if Martin appeared in 125 games.

A return to L.A., which could now sign him at any price at or above the major-league minimum of $400,000, seems unlikely as Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is thought to be close to inking free agent Dioner Navarro.

New York reportedly was close to acquiring Martin 10 days ago for fellow catcher Francisco Cervelli, with the Yankees and Dodgers apparently exchanging medical records.