TORONTO – In a manner, it’s a easy commerce. A contending crew in want of catching sends two comparatively unheralded prospects to a rebuilding crew for a participant nearing his 36th birthday.
After all, there’s much more to this deal contemplating all that Russell Martin completed in Toronto and what his departure says in regards to the Blue Jays’ path forward.
Wanting again, it’s exhausting to think about that the Blue Jays make consecutive ALCS appearances in the event that they don’t signal the Canadian catcher. No, he’s not price his $20 million wage anymore, and the Blue Jays publicly acknowledged as a lot by sending $16.four million with Martin to the Dodgers in trade for prospects Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko.
Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take followers contained in the Blue Jays and round MLB with information, evaluation and interviews.
However that five-year, $82 million deal was nonetheless price it contemplating Martin’s contributions at and behind the plate. Over the course of 4 seasons, Martin averaged 16 residence runs with a .336 on-base proportion and 1.9 wins above alternative. Whereas more durable to quantify, his clubhouse presence and expectation of success helped Toronto return to the playoffs should you ask folks across the 2015 Blue Jays.
In that context, it’s exhausting to not mirror on what Martin meant to Toronto, however at a time that the Blue Jays try to construct a brand new contending core, he was now not a match. Martin didn’t play after September Three final 12 months, so lengthy earlier than the World Collection started, the Blue Jays knew a commerce was a powerful chance.
After months of discussions, that deal got here collectively on Friday. Martin will now return to Los Angeles and play for the crew that chosen him within the second spherical of the 2002 draft. In Toronto, a brand new set of questions emerges for the Blue Jays as they forge forward with out their longtime catcher.
Remaining on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster are backstops Danny Jansen, Luke Maile and Reese McGuire. In a convention name with reporters Friday, GM Ross Atkins prompt that Maile’s the favorite to interrupt camp because the backup, whereas Jansen and McGuire will probably compete for the beginning job.
Whereas it’s theoretically attainable that the Blue Jays might carry Jansen and McGuire, Atkins would like to see each prospects play. Which means the runner-up would probably head to triple-A to proceed creating.
“Having reps is important and that’s what works towards them barely from doubtlessly them each breaking on the major-league crew,” Atkins stated.
The Blue Jays aren’t about handy Jansen the job regardless of his standing as a top-100 prospect, however he does seem to have an edge over McGuire given his offensive profile and what Atkins described as encouraging management traits.
“Danny’s most likely one step forward (of McGuire) in that class at the moment,” Atkins stated. “Our hope is that in some unspecified time in the future Reese passes him and Danny passes him once more. They’re extraordinarily aggressive and intensely pushed.”
As for Martin, he’ll try so as to add a World Collection ring to his resume with a Dodgers crew that simply misplaced Yasmani Grandal to free company. That makes Martin a useful complement to Austin Barnes, and it’s additionally price noting that his skill to play the infield might turn out to be useful on a crew that’s clearly keen to maneuver gamers from place to place.
Neither prospect going from Los Angeles to Toronto ranks among the many sport’s finest, so it’s removed from an awesome return. Realistically, although, the Blue Jays have been by no means getting a prime prospect again for Martin. Provided that actuality, the return appears cheap if unspectacular.
Atkins known as the commerce “a particularly reasonable deal for each groups” whereas a scout from a 3rd crew described the return as “mainly two low-impact lottery tickets.”
In Brito, the Blue Jays get a 19-year-old shortstop whose bat could also be his finest calling card. The precise-handed hitter obtained a $2 million bonus from the Dodgers in 2015 largely due to his glove, however his bat has since progressed and he hit .288/.352/.489 in 53 video games at Rookie ball final 12 months, including 11 residence runs in simply 53 video games.
“He actually carried out at a high-rate for a 19-year-old shortstop,” Atkins stated.
MLB Pipeline ranked Brito 23rd amongst Dodgers prospects, however in accordance with Baseball America he’s “torpid within the subject typically and makes poor baserunning choices.” In different phrases, the Blue Jays’ participant improvement employees has loads of work forward.
Sopko, in the meantime, is nearer to the big-leagues even when his upside doesn’t look like as excessive. The 24-year-old right-hander spent the 2018 season at excessive A and double-A, posting a 3.52 ERA with 121 strikeouts in comparison with 27 walks in 117.2 innings. His command and supply are thought-about above-average with a fastball that sits within the 89-93 m.p.h. vary, however he didn’t rank among the many prime 30 Dodgers prospects on MLB Pipeline.
Nonetheless, his strike-throwing skill and sturdiness appealed to the Blue Jays. “Sometimes, guys who do these two issues find yourself getting an opportunity to assist a major-league crew,” Atkins stated.
Even after buying and selling Martin away, the Blue Jays are nonetheless engaged with rival groups about potential offers. Pitching stays a precedence for the Blue Jays, who’re listening on a wide-range of gamers.
“Our discussions are ongoing and so they go properly past Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman,” Atkins stated.
The addition of David Phelps on a one-year, $2.5 million deal provides supervisor Charlie Montoyo one other skilled arm for the bullpen. Whereas the right-hander misplaced the 2018 season to Tommy John surgical procedure, it’s “extraordinarily life like” that he may very well be prepared for opening day, in accordance with Atkins.
With Phelps, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard and Trent Thornton now on the roster, the Blue Jays are getting nearer to constructing the pitching depth required to make it via 162 video games. And, as ever, there’s extra work forward because the Blue Jays proceed reshaping their crew in methods large and small.