Just when you thought the Dodgers weren’t going to make a move, they go ahead and make a deal. Late Friday morning, it was announced that the team acquired catcher Russell Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays in return for cash considerations and minor league right-handed pitcher Andrew Sopko, along with minor league infielder Ronny Brito.
The 35-year-old Martin started his career as a Dodger in 2006 after being selected by Los Angeles in the 17th round of the 2002 draft. With the Dodgers, Martin was an All-Star in 2007 and 2008 and helped lead the club to three postseason appearances in his five seasons. The upcoming season will be Martin’s 14th in the majors, and he owns a career slash line of .249/.349/.399 with 185 homers and 751 RBI with the Dodgers (2006-10), Yankees (2011-12), Pirates (2013-14) and Blue Jays (2015-18).
In 2018, Martin made 89 starts behind the plate and at third base for the Blue Jays, slashing .194/.338/.325 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI.
Sopko, 24, was selected by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2015 draft out of Gonzaga and has a career 27-17 minor league record with a 3.61 ERA and 363 strikeouts against 112 walks over four seasons.
Brito, 19, signed with the Dodgers as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2015 and has a career minor league slashline of .259/.339/.418 with 15 homers and 104 RBIs over three minor league seasons.
This marks the second straight season that the Dodgers have brought back a former player, sparking many on social media to make a call for the return of their favorite former player (I’d like to have Puig come back, please). Martin is likely to be the back up to Austin Barnes, unless, in some bizarro world, the Dodgers still stay in on J.T. Realmuto. But one would think that this effectively takes them out of the running for the Marlins catcher.
Martin also made starts at both shortstop and left field while in Toronto, adding to the type of player the Dodgers’ front office likes—one with versatility. He has also hit double digit home runs in eight straight seasons. According to David Vassegh, the Dodgers and Blue Jays have been talking since the winter meetings about a possible Martin trade.
As the Dodgers had 38 players on their 40-man roster, no corresponding move would be made to add Martin.
(Jon Chapper provided some information furnished in this report)