Martin comes back to catch in trade with Blue Jays

The Modesto Bee - - Sports - BY MARIA TOR­RES

The Dodgers on Fri­day found a so­lu­tion for their va­cancy at catcher: They brought back Rus­sell Martin, send­ing a pair of mi­nor lea­guers to the Toronto Blue Jays in ex­change for their for­mer back­stop.

The Blue Jays also sent $16.4 mil­lion to off­set the $20 mil­lion salary that Martin, who turns 36 in Fe­bru­ary, will make in the fi­nal sea­son of a five-year con­tract he signed in Novem­ber 2014.

Martin bat­ted .194 with a .663 on-base-plus-slug­ging per­cent­age and 25 RBIs in 90 games last sea­son. He is ex­pected to be the Dodgers’ stop­gap, along with Austin Barnes, un­til catch­ing prospects Keib­ert Ruiz and Will Smith are ready for the ma­jor leagues.

The Blue Jays re­ceived right-handed pitcher An­drew Sopko and in­fielder Ronny Brito from the Dodgers to com­plete the trans­ac­tion.

The move does not pre­clude the Dodgers from pur­su­ing cov­eted Mi­ami Mar­lins catcher J.T. Real­muto, who re­mains avail­able via trade. But as they for­mu­late a plan for the 2019 sea­son, the Dodgers could jus­tify mov­ing on from the loss of free agent Yas­mani Gran­dal by hav­ing Martin and Barnes share du­ties.

The Dodgers se­lected Martin in the 17th round of the 2002 draft. Af­ter de­but­ing in 2006, he played in 667 games, was a two-time All-Star and won one Gold Glove and a Sil­ver Slug­ger award dur­ing five sea­sons with the Dodgers. He later played for the New York Yan­kees and Pitts­burgh Pi­rates.

Since last play­ing for the Dodgers in 2010, Martin has logged ma­jor league in­nings at sec­ond base, third base, short­stop and left field for the Blue Jays. He last be­came an All-Star in 2015, a year in which he slugged .458 dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son but was held to only four hits and one RBI in eight post­sea­son games.

Dodgers ex­ec­u­tives who have re­mained in the or­ga­ni­za­tion since Martin’s free-agent de­par­ture are fa­mil­iar with his post­sea­son strug­gles: He hit .224 (15 for 67) with nine walks and nine RBIs in 19 play­off games from 2006 to 2009.

FRANK GUNN Cana­dian Press file

Jays catcher Rus­sell Martin fails to tag out the Rangers’ Rougned Odor dur­ing the 2015 ALDS in 2015. Martin was traded to the Dodgers, where he played from 2006-10.

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