Russell Martin had one year left on his deal when the Blue Jays traded him, and while he could have been useful to them in 2019, it’s great to see him chasing a World Series ring with the Dodgers this fall.
As the Blue Jays really started tearing down their roster for a rebuild last summer, there were some veterans that could have made sense to keep around. Arguably, Russell Martin could have been one of those players.
The now 36-year-old had one year remaining on the five year pact he signed before the 2015 season and could have served an important role as a mentor for his young teammates, especially for Danny Jansen, who took over the role as the starting catching. However, the Blue Jays made the right decision this past off-season, sending Martin to the L.A. Dodgers and eating some of his salary in order to make it happen.
The move was necessary for a number of reasons, including Jansen’s development, and the same ended up being true for Reese McGuire as well as the season wore on. To me though, the biggest motivation for trading Martin was allowing him to play meaningful baseball as his career winds down, and he’s getting that opportunity with the Dodgers right now. He may not be the starter anymore, but he has a real chance to win a World Series ring this fall, something that’s alluded him throughout his 14 year career.
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Giving Martin that type of opportunity was the classy thing to do for the Blue Jays, even if it meant they had to pay him the majority of his salary to play for another team. The reality is, they would have paid him all of that money to probably only start 40-50 games as the back-up catcher, and that would have been a tough pill to swallow on a rebuilding club. He ended up appearing in 83 games for the Dodgers this season, a career low, but that’s a sacrifice that an aging player is willing to make in pursuit of a championship.
The Dodgers entered last night’s game with a 2-1 lead over Washington in their ALDS series, but couldn’t close the door on Max Scherzer and the Nationals. They’ll now play their fifth and deciding game in L.A. on Wednesday night to see who will advance and square off against the winner of the series between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, who will also play a Game 5 that evening.
Martin did not play last night, but he was instrumental in the Dodgers’ Game 3 win, going 2-4 with a double, home run, and four RBI. Will Smith, the Dodgers starting catcher, has struggled throughout the series at the plate (.111), so don’t be surprised if Martin gets the call in the series clincher.
Without the Blue Jays in the playoffs, this fan is rooting for the Dodgers to end their playoff struggles during the Clayton Kershaw era of the team, if for no other reason to see our Canadian former Blue Jay catcher get rewarded for a career worth of hard work. He has talked about how this season could be his last, so here’s hoping he can go out in style, and I’m glad the Blue Jays gave him that opportunity by trading him.