You kind of knew this was coming, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.
The Blue Jays have sent C Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguers 2B/SS Ronny Brito and SP Andrew Sopko. The team will also be eating a “significant portion” of the remaining $20M owed to Martin, according to Jeff Passan.
The Blue Jays signed Martin after the 2014 season to upgrade from Dioner Navarro. Martin was coming off a year in which he slashed .290/.402/.430 with a 140 wRC+. It was a career year that saw him put up 5.4 fWAR in just 111 games, good for second among all catchers in the MLB. But even though he put up those numbers at the plate, Martin was advertised as a defense-first catcher that had all the intangibles that people love to talk about.
Even though the last year and change of his time in the blue and white were frustrating, Martin leaves as one of the most important free agent signings in franchise history, given how vital he was on those Blue Jays teams that went to the ALCS in back to back seasons.
As for the return, I don’t think you could expect much given his age, salary, and the fact that Yasmani Grandal had to settle for a 1/$18.25M deal yesterday. The 19-year-old Brito was playing rookie ball last season and hit .295/.359/.496 over 61 games. He was the 23rd ranked prospect in the Dodgers system by MLB Pipeline. Sopko, on the other hand, pitched 117 innings between High-A and Double-A with a 3.52 ERA.
Given where things ended up last season, with Martin on the bench and Danny Jansen getting starts, this is for the best. It’s time to see what Jansen and Luke Maile can do with more reps behind the plate. Reese McGuire is also knocking on the door behind them, so there’s more than enough depth to handle this loss.
Love it or hate it, these are not your 2015 Blue Jays. These aren’t even your early 2017 Blue Jays. Mark Shapiro and company have really overhauled their roster to the point where they’re almost unrecognizable. Only five players (Smoak, Pillar, Stroman, Sanchez, Travis) from that good, but aging 2015 team remain, and it hasn’t even been four full years. Thankfully, we have a certain special talent on the way to hopefully, usher in a new era of Blue Jays baseball and make some new memories.