Dodgers bring Russell Martin back to LA in trade with Blue Jays

LOS ANGELES — For the second consecutive winter, the Dodgers have re-acquired one of the franchise’s former stars.

The Dodgers sent two minor-leaguers to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Russell Martin. The Blue Jays will also pay the majority of Martin’s $20 million salary in 2019.

Now 36, Martin is no longer the player who made four All-Star teams (two as a Dodger) and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards with the Dodgers in 2007. He hit just .194 with a .663 OPS in 90 games with the Blue Jays last season.

But he is still well-regarded for his framing skills and ability to handle a pitching staff.

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The Dodgers have been engaged with the Miami Marlins, on and off, in trade talks centering around catcher J.T. Realmuto since November. The acquisition of Martin to pair with Austin Barnes does not preclude a trade for Realmuto (Barnes still has options and could be sent to the minors), but it covers the Dodgers if the Marlins continue to seek a high return for Realmuto.

Martin spent the first five seasons of his career with the Dodgers, debuting in 2006. During those seasons, he hit .272 with a .761 OPS and 54 home runs. He signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent following the 2010 season and spent the past eight seasons with the Yankees, Pirates and Blue Jays, batting .233 with a .739 OPS but made the All-Star team as recently as 2015 with the Blue Jays.

In exchange for Martin, the Dodgers sent minor-leaguers Andrew Sopko and Ronny Brito to the Blue Jays.

Sopko, 24, was a seventh-round draft pick out of Gonzaga in 2015. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 3.88 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 14 games (10 starts) for Double-A Tulsa last year.

Brito, 19, was part of the Dodgers’ big international-signing splurge in 2016. The Dominican middle infielder received a $2 million bonus and has hit .259 in 3 seasons at the rookie-league level.

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