Dodgers 2019 Player Reviews: Russell Martin
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin runs the bases
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Though they were considered a prominent landing spot for J.T. Realmuto, the Los Angeles Dodgers addressed the hole left by Yasmani Grandal’s departure in free agency last year by reuniting with Russell Martin.

He was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of Minor Leaguers in Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko. Martin was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2002 MLB Draft and spent the first five seasons of his career with the organization (2006-10).

With just one year remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the Blue Jays, the Dodgers envisioned Martin serving as a short-term, stopgap at the catcher position.

Initially splitting time with Austin Barnes behind the plate, Martin received the majority of his playing time in the first half. In 47 games, he hit .240/.361/.314 with three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI.

Martin’s role decreased following the emergence of Will Smith in July. It limited the veteran to only 36 games in the second half, to which he recorded six extra-base hits and a .656 on-base plus slugging over 102 plate appearances.

In 83 overall games during the regular season, Martin hit just .220/.337/.330 with five doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI across 249 plate appearances. He went on to add a double and home run in Game 3 of the National League Division Series — his lone appearance against the Washington Nationals.

Martin even took the mound on multiple occasions over the course of the year, allowing just two hits with two strikeouts in four scoreless innings.

2019 highlight

On Aug. 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Martin came through in the clutch with a two-out, two-run walk-off single off Carlos Martinez. The base hit propelled the Dodgers to a 2-1 win, extending their winning streak to five.

2020 outlook

Martin was one of four Dodgers players to reach free agency at the conclusion of the World Series. While there was speculation surrounding his future, he revealed that he has no plans on retiring.

The Dodgers are set at the catcher position going forward, so another reunion with Martin appears unlikely at best. However, a potential return shouldn’t entirely be ruled out, especially if L.A. includes one of their catchers in a trade this offseason.

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