PITTSBURGH -- Russell Martin had a pretty short checklist when he showed up in Pittsburgh 21 months ago, and both items have been covered.
Help lead the Pirates back into the winner's circle? Check.
Re-establish my market value? Check.
Martin was refreshingly candid in November 2012, when he left the marquee Yankees to sign a two-year, $17 million contract with the Bucs, the richest they have ever given a free agent.
"I didn't want a long-term contract, especially coming off the season I had," Martin said at the time, when he was coming off hitting a career-low .211. "I feel I can play much better, improve myself, and go at [free agency] again in a couple of years."
That free agency is a couple of months away, and Martin, 31, is approaching it as a .290 hitter, and with his defensive reputation as gilded as ever.
There is a growing groundswell for the Pirates to re-sign him -- even though back in Spring Training manager Clint Hurdle all but anointed Tony Sanchez as his 2015 starter, and despite the likelihood that Martin has played himself out of the club's budget.
The catcher himself has not given this any thought yet.
"I'm here to play baseball," Martin said. "One game and one day at a time. And I kinda enjoy the process … Getting to that [free agent] status and seeing where it goes.
"I do absolutely love it here. I couldn't have made a better decision. I'm in a good place. We're in a good place."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.