Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)
Well, there you have it. The core of the 2015 & 2016 teams that revitalized the fanbase for the Toronto Blue Jays is nothing more than a distant memory.
Out of José Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, John Gibbons, and Russell Martin, the final domino to fall was perhaps one of the greatest catchers to ever wear a Jays’ uniform.
BREAKING: Per MLB sources, the Blue Jays are trading Russell Martin to the LA Dodgers.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) January 11, 2019
More to come...
As of this writing, it is unknown just how much of Martin’s 2019 salary of $20MM the Jays will eat, but one can assume that it will be a lot. If I were a betting man, I’d wager somewhere between the $15MM-$18MM range. Of course, that could be off, but that seems to fit. To boot, according to Jeff Passan, the Jays will be eating a “significant portion” of the salary.
In return, the Blue Jays will add to their already robust farm system with shortstop Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko, the latter of which has reached as high as Double-A. Sopko split time between A & AA ball, putting up a cumulative 3.90 ERA over 117.2 innings with 121 strikeouts. Brito was ranked as the 23rd overall prospect in the Dodgers’ system and hit a line of .295/.359/.496 in 61 games with the DSL Dodgers and rookie-ball Ogden. It’s never a bad thing to bring in more talent for a team’s farm system; especially one already littered with up-the-middle depth. You just never know, really. Here’s some more interesting tidbits, courtesy of Ben Nicholson-Smith -
Brito has intriguing hit & power tools according to a scout I heard from. Worth noting: he fractured his femur in August— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 11, 2019
Sopko is viewed as a command guy whose fastball sits 89-93 mph. Uses curve / change combination, good delivery. Viewed by same scout as a fringe MLB SP
The bottom line is that something like this had to be done. The writing was on the wall ever since the Jays released Tulo not too long ago. It has nothing to do with the Front Office’s “desire to purge the team of anything Anthopoulos related,” as some people may want to believe. Rather, it has everything to do with kick-starting a youth movement that (hopefully) will develop into a new core of players that aim to take the Jays into heights we long for them to reach.
Danny Jansen seems to immediately benefit from this move, even though he already projected to be the team’s starting catcher (according to their depth chart before this trade was made). He’ll presumably take the reigns henceforth and be groomed to, hopefully, be the team’s main guy behind the dish for the foreseeable future. Reese McGuire will also get his opportunity to prove his value for the team in the same role. Basically, it’s open season behind the plate and it, personally, has me salivating to see what becomes of it.
Also, Luke Maile will be in the mix, but I doubt at a high rate.
For Martin, it’s an opportunity to help an already strong LA Dodgers team and maybe even chase a World Series ring. He gets to go back to the team that drafted him to (probably) finish his career; full-circle, if you will. But it’s important to note that, without Martin, the Jays would have never been able to achieve their playoff runs in 2015 & ‘16. Remember, it was Martin who led off in the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 5 of the ALDS and hit the ground-ball that was bobbled by Elvis Andrus that ultimately led to Bautista’s infamous bat-flip homerun. His pitch framing is second to none and his leadership was contagious. Simply put, he was a joy to watch and was/is someone that we regard as what we all expect from a Toronto Blue Jay - class, poise, and dignity.
No bones about it.
With that, I wish Russ nothing but the best of luck. If he can earn himself a ring with the Dodgers, more power to him. He, without a doubt, deserves it.
Also, something to keep in mind -
UPDATE 7:26 pm - The Blue Jays will be paying $16.4MM of the $20MM remaining on Russell Martin’s contract. The Dodgers will be paying the remaining $3.6MM.
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