Blue Jays trade Martin, cash to Dodgers for two prospects

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded catcher Russell Martin and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for infielder Ronny Brito and right-handed pitcher Andrew Sopko, the team announced Friday.

Martin is entering the final season of the five-year, $82-million contract he signed with the Blue Jays in 2015.

The 35-year-old was a workhorse for the Blue Jays during his first two seasons in Toronto. He made 129 appearances behind the plate, went to his fourth All-Star game, and helped the Blue Jays snap their 22-year playoff drought in 2015. He would play 137 games in 2016

However, Martin struggled with injuries in both 2017 and 2018, making just 181 appearances combined over that span.

The veteran backstop hit .225/.336/.399 with 66 home runs and 211 RBIs during his four-year tenure in Toronto.

Brito was signed to a minor-league contract by the Dodgers in July 2015. He has bounced between rookie ball and the Dominican Summer League during his pro career. He played primarily with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League, where he hit .288/.352/.489 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs.

While Brito still needs time to develop more consistency, he has Gold Glove upside at shortstop. He covers plenty of ground at shortstop thanks to his smooth actions, quick first step and keen instincts, and his soft hands and strong arm add to his playmaking ability. His tools will play anywhere in the infield and he saw time at second and third base last year. – MLB Prospect Watch

The 19-year-old played around the infield last season, making appearances and shortstop, second base, and third base. Brito will be coming off an injury, as he fractured his femur in August. He was the 23rd-ranked prospect in the Dodgers’ system.

Sopko was a seventh-round pick of the Dodgers in 2015. He split time last season between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, where he posted a combined 2.35 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 117 2/3 innings.

The 24-year-old was not ranked in the top 30 among Dodgers prospects.

Martin will be returning for his second stint with the Dodgers. Los Angeles originally selected the Canadian in the 17th round of the 2002 MLB Draft. He played for the Dodgers for five years, compiling a .272/.365/.396 slash line, 54 home runs, and 300 RBIs. He became a free agent in 2010 and promptly signed a contract to join the New York Yankees.

The Dodgers are still firmly in the hunt for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto despite the move for Martin. If they do end up landing the 2018 All-Star, Martin would be relegated to a role off the bench. If the roster stays as-is, however, Martin could find himself splitting time with Austin Barnes behind the plate. He’ll be an admirable stopgap while Los Angeles continues to develop top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.

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