The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to get younger, more athletic and cheaper for the 2019 season - and that could mean moving out the franchise's clubhouse leader.
According to a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Toronto is "willing to eat a portion of the $20 million Russell Martin is owed in 2019 to facilitate a trade." Martin is in the final season of a five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed in the 2014 offseason.
But as Sherman noted, finding a taker for Martin won't be easy, even if they eat up some of that salary. He's 36 years of age and batted a terrible .194 in 90 game appearances during the 2018 season, with just 25 RBI and an OPS of .663.
After registering their second straight losing season, the Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode. J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna, Curtis Granderson and 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson were all traded during the season, as team president Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins try to rebuild this roster through its loaded farm system.
Despite his expensive salary, there could be some value for Martin. He's still one of the game's top defensive catchers and even filled in at left field, shortstop and third base during the 2018 season for the Blue Jays. He's a well-respected locker room leader and has 57 postseason games on his resume.
There are few catchers in the majors who hit well for both contact and power these days, so Martin's lackluster bat shouldn't scare teams away too much. Most teams could use an upgrade at catcher, and Martin could provide just that.
Martin played for his home country team and helped the Blue Jays end a 22-year playoff drought, guiding them to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016. But with Luke Maile and Danny Jansen shining behind the plate in 2018, it makes sense for the Blue Jays to go with the cheaper, younger and more athletic catchers.