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Blue Jays will pay $16.4M of Russell Martin’s $20M salary after trade with Dodgers

Russell Martin

The Los Angeles Dodgers have strengthened their catching corps, officially acquiring backstop Russell Martin, along with cash, from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for prospects Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko.

The Blue Jays will cover $16.4 million of Martin’s $20 million contract for 2019, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.

Martin is a familiar face in Los Angeles, as the right-handed hitter began his Major League career with the Dodgers in 2006. He slashed .272/.365/.396 with 54 home runs and accumulated 16.0 fWAR during his time in Los Angeles before being non-tendered in August of 2010.

The catcher is coming off of a rough season in which he hit only .194/.338/.325 for Toronto. However, he remained a positive contributor with his usual above average defense and good clubhouse presence. Martin, who turns 36 next month, has been a four-time All-Star over his 13-year Major League career.

Martin fills the void left by Yasmani Grandal, who signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He joins Austin Barnes to form the Dodgers’ new catching tandem. However, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes that the acquisition of Martin doesn’t necessarily take Los Angeles out of the race to acquire Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, arguably the game’s best backstop.

The Blue Jays received a pair of prospects in exchange for Martin. Second baseman Ronny Brito, only 19, slashed .295/.359/.496 with 11 home runs in Rookie Ball last season. He is likely a second baseman long term, and his above-average power comes at the cost of contact and bat control skills. He is currently ranked 26th in Toronto’s system by MLB.com.

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Sopko, 24, split his 2018 between High-A and Double-A. He posted a 3.52 ERA over 26 games (22 starts) between the two levels, notching 121 strikeouts compared to only 27 walks. However, his stuff is unimpressive, and his fastball peaks in the low-90s. He is likely a back-end starter long-term. He is not ranked among Toronto’s top 30 prospects by MLB.com.