Baseball Chisme Jan. 2019

Photo by USA Today

Baseball Chisme  – January 13, 2019


Russell Martin a Dodger Again


By David A. Avila

Former all-star catcher Russell Martin returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers who traded for him by sending two minor league players to the Toronto Blue Jays this week.

Martin, 35, started his major league career with the Dodgers and played there from 2006 to 2010 and then signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent. He also played for Pittsburgh before signing with Toronto as a free agent in 2014.

Last year was not a good year for Martin who hit a dismal .194 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in 90 games. It signifies a slow steady decline since hitting .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs in 2014 with Pittsburgh. Though in 2015, Martin was selected as an all-star when he hit .240 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs.

As a Dodger, fans saw an extremely athletic Martin who was capable of stealing baseball and throwing out the best while catching. Defensively he always rated high and won a Gold Glove for catching in 2007 while with the Dodgers. He also won defensive awards in 2013 and 2014 while with Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers struck gold with another former star in Matt Kemp last year whose return led the team to another successful run at the World Series. From April to June the slugging outfielder kept the L.A. team in the hunt but then slumped in the second half of the season. Kemp was traded to Cincinnati along with Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood.

By acquiring Martin the Dodgers assure themselves of another catcher to support Austin Barnes the remaining catcher after the team lost Yasmani Grandal to free agency.

Martin no longer is a base stealing threat - he was caught in all three steal attempts last year – but he still has defensive skills especially with the pitch calling and work around the plate. Last year Grandal led Major League Baseball in passed balls and was especially dismal with his defensive skills during the playoffs.

Still, Martin was brought in to assist Barnes who the Dodgers feel will return to his 2017 form when he was an offensive threat.

“This year is a big year for me. I need to have a big year or nobody is going to want to have me,” said Martin who is a free agent next year.

The Dodgers traded minor league players Andrew Sopko a 24-year-old pitcher and Ronny Brito a 19-year-old infielder for Martin along with $16.4 million in cash. That means the Dodgers are left to pay $3.6 million of his salary in 2019.


New York Yanks sign DJ

Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu was signed by the New York Yankees to a 2-year contract at $24 million.

LeMahieu, 30, batted .276 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs last year but is a former NL batting champion who hit .348 in 2016. His numbers have declined recently but he is considered one of the top, if not the top second baseman in Major League Baseball.

The Yankees have also signed Troy Tulowitzki and ace reliever Zach Britton.


NY Mets sign Jed Lowrie

Infielder Jed Lowrie was signed to a two-year deal worth $20 million by the New York Mets.

Lowrie batted .267 with 23 homers and 99 RBIs in 2018 and at 34 years old had another strong year. He played second base but is capable of playing numerous infield positions.

The Mets have also signed Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Keon Broxton, JD Davis, and pitchers Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia for 2018. It’s been an explosion of deals for the Mets and gives them depth for the first time in years.