Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Russell Martin to see diminished playing time

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TORONTO, ON - JUNE 8: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays advances from first base to third base on a double by Aledmys Diaz #1 in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on June 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 8: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays advances from first base to third base on a double by Aledmys Diaz #1 in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on June 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The struggling Canadian won’t be playing that much as the season comes to a close, opening the door for some younger, more athletic catchers.

According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, catcher and occasional third baseman Russell Martin “won’t play all that much down the stretch”. Nicholson-Smith also reports that John Gibbons has spoken with Martin about his lack of playing time and that Martin, a 2015 All-Star, is “on board”.

Frankly, it’s no surprise that Martin’s playing time is being diminished. In 90 games this season, he’s slashed an abysmal .194/.338/.325 in 289 at-bats, mashing 10 home runs and driving in just 25. His batting average is the lowest on the team, while his .663 OPS is not only the worst among everyday Blue Jays hitters, it is also the fifth worst among catchers with more than 300 plate appearances league-wide.

Though he’s been somewhat useful defensively, having filled in at third base, logging 147 innings at the hot corner, his bat has been more or less a liability in the struggling Blue Jays lineup.

Even if Martin’s bat had gotten going earlier, he would still be in danger of losing some playing time to up-and-coming catchers Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen, both of whom made their major league debuts this summer.

Jansen, 23, has impressed since coming up, slashing .269/.371/.442 with a home run and six doubles, while defensive specialist McGuire, also 23, has been solid defensively while going 1-for-4 at the plate in limited at-bats.

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When combined with the surprising production of backup Luke Maile (.244/.327/.368, 3 HR, 13 2B, 27 RBI), there was little playing time left for the aging former member of the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates.

In addition the aforementioned trio of catchers, the Blue Jays also have Max Pentecost (.253/.283/.401, 10 HR, 52 RBI in 368 PAs at Double-A New Hampshire) and Alberto Mineo (.294/.377/.406, 14 2B, 34 R in 229 PAs at High-A Dunedin) potentially in the mix for a catcher spot in the next few seasons.

While it would’ve been easy to move Martin to third base for the rest of the season, Yangervis Solarte, who Sunday was activated from the disabled, needs a place to play himself. September call-ups Richard Ureña and Rowdy Tellez also complicate the fall infield picture quite a bit. Martin has not played since September 3 at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The native of East York, Ontario has slashed a combined .225/.336/.399 in 447 games for the boys in blue, notching 66 homers and driving in 211. Stealing seven bases and striking out 419 times against 223 walks, he has been worth 7.8 WAR.

Next. Blue Jays: Teams reportedly checked in on Justin Smoak. dark

Despite the fact that this move isn’t shocking by any means, it does show that the Blue Jays as an organization are devoted to giving their young backstops some innings in the bigs. The games in question aren’t important in terms of standings, so why not give them to those who can learn and benefit from them?

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