Martin comes back to catch in trade with Blue Jays
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.
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.