Dodgers catcher Russell Martin is in the midst of his 14th and what could be his final Major League season, as the impending free agent told Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi that he might consider hanging up his spikes if he can’t land with another contending team this offseason.
“I know I can do it physically. It’s going to be, do I have the desire? Am I going to enjoy myself doing it? I don’t know….I really like competing,” Martin said. “Being on a team like this is fun, but if I wasn’t on a winning team, I’d have to be really selective on where I would go. I’d have to have that perfect fit and who knows if that’s going to be available. There are a lot of things that are going to come into play in the decision. This could possibly be my last year. I don’t know. It could be. We’ll see.”
Martin will be 37 on Opening Day 2020, so it isn’t any surprise that he has been considering the end of his career. He has hit .211/.332/.304 over 205 plate appearances this season, continuing an offensive decline that began to sharpen in 2018. Martin has probably received more playing time than expected this season due to Austin Barnes’ struggles, though the emergence of Will Smith as the Dodgers’ regular catcher has firmly placed Martin back into his original veteran backup role. Martin is still one of the sport’s better pitch-framers, and his .227 caught stealing percentage (5-of-22) is roughly middle of the pack, though Baseball Prospectus rates him as a below-average blocker.
The five-year, $82MM contract Martin signed with the Blue Jays prior to the 2015 season is up after this year, and one would imagine the Dodgers would have some interest in re-signing Martin as an inexpensive veteran mentor to Smith. Then again, Los Angeles also has another top catching prospect in Keibert Ruiz who could be close to the big leagues, plus the club still has to figure out what to do with Barnes, who is less than two years’ removed from himself seemingly being the Dodgers’ catcher of the future.
As Davidi notes, it’s also possible Martin could decide to retire on a high note if the Dodgers were to win the World Series, thus giving the catcher the championship ring that has eluded him through multiple trips to the postseason. If Martin did decide to keep playing, he’d certainly get calls from several teams (including contenders) about a contract in 2020.
One theoretical option could be Philadelphia, as Davidi writes that the Blue Jays’ offseason trade talks about Martin “came down to the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.” J.T. Realmuto is obviously locked as the Phillies’ everyday starter, though Andrew Knapp’s rough season has left the club looking for further depth options.
If they feel that strongly about Martin as a mentor hire him as a coach. Saves a spot on the 25 and 40 man rosters.
I always thought that would be the role A.J. Ellis would take on with the Dodgers. Never happened for some reason (although he is some kind of adviser in the Padres system).
Dont need a snitch!
It was AJ Ellis who was the one that ratted out Puig in the press a couple of years ago
Yes, I concur about hiring him as a coach. or bring back the old days of player-coaches. Have him as an everyday coach with the option to activate him should they need an emergency catcher for a while. If anyone could do it, Russell Martin could. He keeps himself in good shape.
Can coaches still be activated in case the situation arises? That used to happen a lot. I mean, they’d still have to open a spot on the roster, but do they even allow it anymore?
I don’t see why it wouldn’t be allowed. If the team goes through the proper process of signing the coach to a player contract, open a roster spot for him, and put him on the roster.
Theoretically, if an owner wants to do it, couldn’t he place himself or his son on the active roster? If he is willing to withstand the boos, eye rolling, and derision, why not?
When owner Bill Veek signed “little person” Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter, he had to sneak the contract by the league president to get it approved. But on what grounds would the league president deny the contract? Would it be “against the sanctity of the game?” I wonder if in our more PC times, the commissioner would deny a little person’s contract?
I don’t know. Same for a woman – something which is long overdue, in my opinion.
I think after Ted Turner they made a rule that management/ownership could not serve as field personnel – I may be wrong about that. We need another Turner, Veeck and Finley back in the game.
“We need another Ted Turner”
No. No we don’t.
That was a farcical move by Turner. I remember it well because it was against the Pirates, and he made an idiot of himself when he did that.
And being that he was always a bonehead to begin with, it didn’t take much work, his making an idiot of himself.
Why is having a female ayer long overdue?
Please tell me which woman were or currently are good enough to play major league baseball
A woman pitched pro ball in the indy leagues about 20 years ago for the st Paul saints . She got rocked in the bus leagues and had an era over 6 for most all but 1 season
Yet I digress…I would love to hear about any females you know good enough to play in the majors
The Tigers talked about activating Omar Visquel to play a few games at short. They said he could still field nearly as good as anyone available but the idea never materialized.
Vizquel was freaking amazing to watch everyday
Vizquel said HELL NO!!!!!
Not a lot of catching is done at age 37 but as far as the Dodgers are concerned it’s going to be less about what Martin decides and more about how they feel about Smith’s sticking power and Ruiz’s progress. Barnes sadly is probably a non-tender candidate at this point.
Barnes is pre-arb and raking at AAA. Better chance of him being the prime backup next year than being non tendered.
Barnes can’t hit major league pitching. The Dodgers have too many other options.
Barnes may not have the best hit Tools, but he’s a quality receiver that had the trust of the Dodgers staff. He’s a fine backup to Will Smith. Ruiz isn’t ready yet. There is zero chance that the Dodgers non tender him. And if the Dodgers have “too many other options” please tell us what they are.
Barnes is hitting better at OKC but I wouldn’t describe it as “raking” especially in that hitter-friendly league. He’s also arbitration eligible in 2020, so if the cost of carrying him goes to a couple of million that will become a decision point for the Dodgers. Not saying they will or won’t tender, only that it isn’t a clear-cut case. If they feel Ruiz might be ready for a call-up during the 2020 season then they have some choices to make about who backs up Smith in the meantime. Also keep in mind that Smith so far is producing way more at the MLB level than he did in the minors. Sustainable, or not? Anybody who claims to know is just making it up.
Hitting .250 is not raking it.
Smith is definitely the Dodgers main catcher going forward, but Ruiz is interesting indeed. Either way it pans out the Dodgers are again showing how great their drafting, and development has been the last decade, just like the Dodgers of old.
Ruiz is 20 years old. No need to rush the dude.
I totally concur. Great problems to have.
Ruiz is considered to be the better talent and still ahead of Smith on the prospect listings, but Smith is more advanced currently, so that’s why he’s on the big club now and Ruiz isn’t. Behind both of them is the highly rated Cartaya, but he’s still a teenager.
Smith is 24 and taking
in the majors.
Ruiz is 20.
How is he “ahead” of Smith?
Ruiz is actually considered a better hitter than Smith. I know it’s hard to believe with how Smith is performing at the major league level, but Ruiz has been hitting better in the minors for a longer period of time. Ruiz broke his finger on a foul, so he won’t be back until Spring Training 2020. Right now, the Dodgers have Smith, Ruiz, Barnes, Martin, Wong, and Cartoya. With Martin likely retiring, it might be Smith and Barnes at the beginning of 2020, but Ruiz is coming fast. The Pirates could have had him for Vazquez, but it seems that they also wanted Dustin May, or else May and Gavin Lux, not Ruiz. We’ll see if they regret passing on him.
Mendoza Line 215
My guess is that NH wanted Lux and Ruiz,plus some others.They need a good young catcher,as many teams do,and the Dodgers have two.
I guess that NH stuck to his guns because of the Archer trade.I think that Lux being included nixed it.This is all conjecture on my part.
Vasquez may very well have put the Dodgers over the top though.He is an excellent pitcher,and one thing that’s Hurdle does not do is over extend his relief pitchers.
Just read what I wrote and you won’t have to ask pointless questions.
The children are the future!
This is the worst news of the year if not the decade. Russell Martin will cause pain and suffering. He is the best player in the history of baseball. Please do not retire!
If the braves don’t sign one of McCann or flowers, I could see him coming to Atlanta. World Series contender, AA signed him to that contract in Toronto, mentor young catchers coming through the system. There is a fit in Atlanta, obviously braves fans, myself included, want BMac back but I would take Martin or flowers in a heartbeat. I’m sick of Tyler flowers
So Martin can hit .180
for the Braves?
When does the lunacy
see, this is an examplo perfecto. ok. so. to begin the year. the year after they lost two consecutive world series. one in an embarrassing fashion to a team that made them looks like shinkickers. and another to the team they look to be rematching in a few months. what did they do? hmmm. well. they went and got Russell Martin. yup. they went and got the only guy the blue jays were just throwing out in the trash. i thought he was fairly untradeable. nope. the best team in the NL went and got some old catcher because muh feelings and good tidings bring back something of the past. now this old dude who cant play is like, im done i suck and know it. this is hilarious. so the astros got greinke and the dodgers got tyler white and russell martin. is this a joke? nope. this all happened. common sense is lacking in the state of california. watch texas (Houston) roll that team like an old lady at the taco truck on tuesday in telapelaxa. it goes quick. you can watch. but it will only leave you wondering? wait. where did the tacos go? they didnt. they didnt go anywhere. like an old lady at a food truck. this is all make believe. go astros
I was keeping up OK until the part about the taco truck.
I didn’t get as far as the taco truck. Seems I still have a life, after all.
Great! Because the rest of us can NEVER unsee what we just saw…..
Those must be some darned interesting tacos…
This is the type of comment that keeps me coming back to MLBTR.
Yes, yes, go Astros.
However, something you missed. The burrito stand at fifth and MLK. The man with a mustache. Just a dream to make it big. Be the best. Like Kershaw and Bellinger. Maybe a HoF hot sauce will win them all.
You BE a writer!
see. this dude! ( or gal!) gets it. must be an astro fan too
and to be brutally honest. if this was an attempt at sarcasm. im more confused than anyone else. what i wrote should not be misconstrued as sarcastic or bombastic. it was an encouraging rift upon the beaconing social taco truck old lady shindig
whereupon many become one with the taco. -marianne williamson.
I call dibs on Taco Truck Old Lady Shindig as my indie band’s new name.
yes. i made up a venue/city/strip mall/ small town. its gonna be ok
How could one compare Russell Martin and Tyler White 2 depth moves to Greinke. Great logic there
Yankees, Romine is free I think and could get a good deal somewhere.
He has the 10th best fWAR for catchers, all-time. More than Yadi, Posey, Ted Simmons, Mauer, Cochrane and Posada. Love this about WAR, it highlights the underrated/overrated so well. Martin really was that good all up and down his career when you think about it, just a really underrated player, defensively he was a god, and catcher defense is the most important defense.
Brian McCann is 8th all-time too, another lowkey borderline HOF-er, or one who should be.
Yes, but he sucks right now!
A very under-rated player. He was a huge part of the brief resurgence the Pirates had earlier in the decade. He made..and maybe still does…every pitcher better.
Mendoza Line 215
He was the first big time free agent the Pirates signed,and they paid $10M a year for him.They needed a catcher,but it seemed like a lot of money,but he came through as one of their best hitters.He was always a good catcher.
He legitimized the team for 2013 and 2014.Fortunately,they traded for Cervelli for 2015.
The Pirates offered the same annual amount as the Blue Jays,$14M,but only for four years.Martin earned the money the first two years,was meh the third,and grossly overpaid the last two.Give NH credit for not giving the fifth year.
Martin is from Canada,and any future playing or coaching job would probably be relatively near his home.
Yep. It’s no coincidence that both Pittsburgh and Toronto immediately improved after his arrival. He turned a largely mediocre Jays pitching staff into the best in the AL for a couple years there.
A few announcers ive heard said hes gunna make a great coach one day. Maybe he’ll stay in LA and coach.
Don’t let the door hit you on
the way out Martin!
Stick a fork in him,
Just retire Russell. Don’t think you are getting a parade!
Those who think Martin is useless haven’t seen him play in 2019. Even now, he’s a much better defensive catcher than Grandal, and he is still versatile enough to play multiple positions. He is one of the best position players I’ve ever seen pitch. I would honestly trust Martin coming into relieve over a few of the jokers I’ve seen take the hill for L.A. this season. I was sorry when he left the first time, but I hope he can retire with a ring. Besides coaching, he might have a future as a broadcaster. What he says is actually interesting, and is worth much more than the typical “you know” and “obviously” types
But can he pitch???
Yep, small sample sizes be damned.
Phillies would be great. Knapp’s only skill was calling good games for Eflin but that ship seems to have sailed. For someone with a reputation for having a great eye I watched Andrew Knapp swing at two 2-strike breaking balls that didn’t even make it to the plate against the Red Sox this week. I just don’t understand tolerating the offensive ineptitude if Knapp isn’t advancing on defense or getting the most out of his staff. If not Martin (or some other vet) next season they need to bump Grullon up.
Aka no Pirates honeymoon