The Toronto Blue Jays should be looking at bringing back Canadian catcher, Russell Martin for a couple of reasons.
Martin is still a free agent and rumours are swirling he is interested in still playing after dealing with a family issue all off-season. He has been linked to a few teams but signing back in Toronto makes too much sense.
First, with the roster now at 26, carrying three catchers is more likely as manager Charlie Montoyo says “there’s a chance” they do just that. Most expected that to be Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire and possibly Caleb Joseph, yet Martin could fit in nicely as a third catcher and infield depth.
Martin could be a veteran presence to the young catchers in Jansen and McGuire who are still learning the ropes of being a big-leaguer, especially McGuire, who had reportedly was caught masturbating in a parking lot in Florida. It has been a difficult situation for everyone involved.
According to reports, there could be a chance Toronto looks to move McGuire, especially with the likes of Alejandro Kirk in the minors waiting for the opportunity to play big-league ball. So, if they decide to do that, Martin would fit in nicely as a backup.
Although having Martin as a veteran presence for the catchers and pitching staff helps, the big reason why signing Martin should happen is due to his connection with Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Blue Jays’ big off-season addition was Ryu who is a top-10 pitcher in baseball and will be the ace of this staff for the four years he is signed for. But, if Toronto is wanting Ryu to be his best, bringing in his battery mate in Los Angeles should happen.
Last season, in Ryu’s 20 starts with Martin the pitcher had a 1.52 ERA while with Will Smith behind the plate that number inflated to 5.40 in six starts. Down the stretch, the Canadian really only played when Ryu started and the Blue Jays could easily do the same thing this season with Martin being Ryu’s personal catcher. And, remember personal catchers are nothing new in Toronto as Josh Thole held that role for R.A. Dickey.
Not only did Ryu pitch better with Martin behind the plate calling games, but the two also have mutual respect which helped their relationship.
“If you look at his career, [Martin] had an amazing career,” Ryu said through his interpreter to the OC Register back in October. “So from the get-go, you have to respect that. And he’s been an incredible help in terms of communicating and being on the same page. Even from day 1, as a veteran, he made sure that we were on the same page and from the get-go, we had a great start to the season, hence the good results throughout the season.”
If Martin can catch Ryu and they can replicate the success, it would be a huge help for the Blue Jays who many peg to be around a .500 team. All of a sudden, if Ryu is pitching like that, Toronto may be a team to watch out for to sneak into the playoffs.
Finally, Martin would also add some hitting to the bottom of the order. Last season he had just a .220 batting average, but looking deeper, his exit velocity was still high at 88.2 and a launch angle of 10.6 shows he was making good contact with the ball but just wasn’t getting hits. In his WOBA (weighted on-base average) he was .295 showing he can still get on base. And, at the bottom of the order, that is really all you need as Martin would be here for his fielding and calling games of Ryu.
So, Ross Atkins and company should look at bringing back Russell Martin to be a part of the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays roster.