The Toronto Blue Jays are trading veteran catcher Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Sportsnet's Arash Madani.
BREAKING: Per MLB sources, the Blue Jays are trading Russell Martin to the LA Dodgers.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) January 11, 2019
More to come...
The 35-year-old Martin is entering the final year of an $82 million contract he signed with the Blue Jays in the 2014 offseason. The veteran catcher had been the subject of trade rumors throughout the winter, and the Jays finally found a new home for the East York, Ont. native.
Martin has regressed considerably since joining the Blue Jays. Though he's praised and admired for his leadership and strong clubhouse presence, Martin just wasn't producing on the field. He finished 2018 with a porous .190 batting average and .663 OPS, hitting just 10 home runs and 25 RBI.
The Blue Jays are in the midst of a major rebuild and are transitioning towards a younger roster for 2019. Veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was released earlier this offseason, as the Blue Jays opted to simply out the final $38 million on his contract.
Toronto also opted not to re-sign veteran starting pitcher Marco Estrada, who has also regressed over the last three years. The Jays have simply decided it's time to clear payroll and build towards the future.
Martin is a four-time All-Starr and heads back to the team he played for from 2006-2010. Los Angeles has lost in consecutive World Series', so Martin gets the chance in helping this team ends its 31-year championship drought.
The Dodgers lost stud catcher Yasmani Grandal to the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency, opening the door for a trade to land Martin. Given his age and injury history, it's unlikely Martin will start full-time behind the plate. The Dodgers will likely have him split the duties with somebody else.
What This Means
The Blue Jays have no reason to keep around expensive and ageing veterans on their roster, as a rebuild starts to take place. Martin's leadership will surely be missed, but he's at least getting the chance to win a championship ring - while the Jays open up the door for younger players to take over behind the plate.