Jays send Martin to Dodgers, get younger

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - GRE­GORY STRONG

TORONTO An off-sea­son of change con­tin­ued for the Toronto Blue Jays on Fri­day as the team dealt catcher Rus­sell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a pair of mi­nor­league prospects.

The move came a month after the Blue Jays gave an­other high-priced vet­eran — short­stop Troy Tu­low­itzki — his re­lease.

Like the Tu­low­itzki decision, Toronto will be eat­ing a lot of Martin’s salary. The Cana­dian is owed US$20 mil­lion this sea­son and reports in­di­cate the Dodgers will only be on the hook for a frac­tion of it.

“I want to thank the Blue Jays or­ga­ni­za­tion from top to bot­tom for the op­por­tu­nity to play in my home coun­try for the last four years,” Martin said in a state­ment.“I am now look­ing for­ward to be­ing back with the Dodgers where it all be­gan for me.

“I would like to ex­tend a very spe­cial thanks to the Toronto fans that fol­lowed me ev­ery step of the way. I am truly grate­ful for your con­tin­ued sup­port.”

Join­ing the Blue Jays are right-han­der An­drew Sopko and in­fielder Ronny Brito.

Sopko, who played 14 games for the dou­ble-A Tulsa Drillers last sea­son, had a 3-1 record with a 3.88 earned-run av­er­age. A sev­enth-round pick in 2015, the 24-year-old has a ca­reer mi­nor-league record of 27-17 with a 3.61 ERA with 363 strike­outs over 394 1/3 in­nings.

Brito, 19, split last sea­son be­tween the Do­mini­can Sum­mer League Dodgers and the rookie-level Og­den Rap­tors, hit­ting. 295 over 61 games.

The trade sends Martin back to the team that drafted

him in 2002. The 35-year-old from Chelsea, Que., spent his first five big-league sea­sons with the Dodgers.

Martin signed with Toronto as a free agent in Novem­ber 2014. He helped the Blue Jays make back-to­back Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries ap­pear­ances in 2015 and 2016.

The four-time all-star has also played for the New York Yan­kees and Pitts­burgh Pi­rates over his 13-year bigleague ca­reer. Martin’s num­bers have tailed off in re­cent sea­sons and his playing time has di­min­ished.

He made 90 ap­pear­ances last sea­son and hit .194 with a 10 homers and 25 RBIs. Martin is slated to be­come a free agent at the end of the 2019 sea­son.

Tu­low­itzki re­cently signed with the Yan­kees for the ma­jor-league min­i­mum of $555,000. That will be off­set against the $20 mil­lion that he’s owed for 2019 by the Blue Jays, who are also on the hook to pay him $14 mil­lion for 2020 along with a $4-mil­lion buy­out of a 2021 team op­tion.

Toronto is in full tear­down mode after two straight dis­ap­point­ing sea­sons. The Blue Jays fin­ished fourth in the Amer­i­can League East last year with a 73-89 record.

The Blue Jays have been stock­pil­ing prospects and will field a young team in 2019 with an eye to returning to con­tention two or three years down the road.

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