clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Thank You Russell Martin!

New, comments
MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Toronto Blue Jays Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays struck a deal Friday afternoon to send Russell Martin and $16.4m (his AAV of his 5 year deal) to the Dodgers for a pair of Minor Leaguers, thus bringing an end to Martin’s tenure with his home country’s lone team.

Martin joined the Jays on November 18, 2014, a Free Agent signing coming off a massive season in Pittsburgh. The Jays outbid the Cubs by guaranteeing a 5th season, one which will be played in Dodger Blue.

In signing Martin, the Jays brought in a hometown hero who was one of the best catchers of his generation. While he was on the back half of his prime, he still provided a lot of value to the Jays when they needed him most, registering a combined 5.5 WAR for $22m in 2015 and 2016, plus framing and intangibles while the Blue Jays made the ALCS in back to back seasons.

Martin was the second addition that winter to the team, coming in a few days after Devon Travis, and 5 days before the big trade that brought in Josh Donaldson. Those moves helped transform the Jays, and ultimately brought an end to the 2 decade playoff drought they were mired in.

Martin’s time in Toronto should be fondly remembered by Jays’ fans. He not only provided a large amount of tangible value for the playoff bound Jays, but also intangible things as well. He has called himself a psychologist for pitchers, helping coach pitchers through challenging situations. He was lauded as a great game caller, teammate and leader.

Over at Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling stated in 2016 that Martin was the most irreplaceable Blue Jay, even over reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson. While it’s tough to see his value over Donaldson, I don’t think anyone bumps Martin from at least the runner up position in 2015 and 2016.

Looking beyond the big picture, Martin also leaves us with some pretty exciting highlights as well.

It started in Montreal for the exhibition games prior to the start of the 2015 season, where Russell’s father played the national anthems on saxophone.

As the season continued, he had some big moments throughout the season, as shown here.

His 2016 season contained many more big moments as well.

While those first two seasons were amazing both for Martin and the Blue Jays, the last two years have been a different story. While Martin’s presence was still felt, he missed time on the DL in 2017 for the first time as a Blue Jay, and the team fell well short of making the playoffs, the first time Martin didn’t make the playoffs in seven years.

In 2018, Martin struggled with the bat, but still managed to play good defense. On top of that, he provided defensive flexibility while stepping aside and mentoring the new wave of catchers. Martin’s last game as a Blue Jay was September 3 as he started at third base. After that, he was relegated to strictly a mentor role, ultimately spending the final game of the season as the manager.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Martin moves on to Los Angeles, he is in a great position to be a valuable leader and contributor to another likely playoff bound team.

Martin brought the Blue Jays 4 years of a big name, hometown hero for Canadians to cheer for. On top of that, he brought great production to a position that has historically been a black hole for the organization, as he leaves sitting in a distant second place all time behind Ernie Witt among Jays’ catchers in WAR.

Martin helped bring the franchise back to the playoffs, provided the Blue Jays with excellent production over his 4 years, his teammates with wisdom, and fans with wonderful memories. We thank you for your time here Russ, and wish you the best of luck in Los Angeles.