A Look at the Russell Martin Trade

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 10-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a trade Friday, sending veteran catcher Russell Martin, along with cash considerations, to the Dodgers in exchange for two minor leaguers.

Russell Martin Trade Details

Dodgers Receive

The Dodgers received Martin, the 13-year veteran catcher who is due to make $20 million next season. He began his career with the Dodgers, being drafted by the club in 2002. After spending four full seasons in their farm system, he was called to the majors in May of 2006.

Martin stayed in L.A. through the end of 2010 before signing a two-year free-agent deal with the New York Yankees. After playing there for two seasons, he spent two years in Pittsburgh. He then signed a five-year, $82 million deal to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays longterm.

Blue Jays Receive

Toronto received middle infielder Ronny Brito, a Dominican who will turn 20 in March, and starting pitcher Andrew Sopko, a 24-year-old right-hander from Montana.

Brito has spent the last three seasons in Rookie-level Ball, playing in the Dominican Summer League, Pioneer League, and Arizona League. Sopko was drafted in 2015 out of Gonzaga University. He has spent the past four seasons in the minors, mainly at the Double-A and High-A level.

What the Dodgers Gain

Martin is a four-time all-star, but his best seasons seem to be behind him. After back-to-back all-star seasons in ’07 and ’08, he has only had two more – 2011 with the Yankees and 2015 with the Blue Jays.

Although his production is down, his leadership is not in question. Despite his low postseason offensive production (.185 average), his teams have made the postseason in nine of his thirteen seasons. In five of those seasons, they made the League Championship Series.  His leadership was so strong that he served as the Jays’ manager in their final game last season.

While splitting time with Austin Barnes, his clubhouse presence could be a boost to the two-time defending National League Champions. Los Angeles has little to lose from this, with Toronto paying most of his $20 million salary. Martin also saw playing time at third base, shortstop, and left field in 2018. He gives the Dodgers someone who could serve as an emergency fill-in on defense.

What the Blue Jays Gain

They gain a possible – key word is possible – return for an aging veteran who was due to be a free agent at the end of this coming season. According to Richard Griffin from the Toronto Star, Brito is a highly-ranked defender whose hitting still needs some work, and Sopko “must be considered minor-league depth.”

If these guys don’t pan out, then it will be as if Martin retired or left via free agency, so the Blue Jays have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Risks and the Verdict

Nothing major. The Dodgers risk Martin turning out to be completely washed up, resulting in release, retirement, or relegation to coaching duties.

The Blue Jays risk neither prospect panning out and losing a few million dollars in the process. While the Russell Martin trade is not a blockbuster, it’s one of the few that won’t hurt either team and could potentially help both.

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