Blue Jays sign Russell Martin; Cardinals get Jason Heyward from Braves

Russell Martin
Catcher Russell Martin batted .290 with 11 home runs and a career-high 402 on-base percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Russell Martin won’t be coming back to the Dodgers.

Martin, the premier catcher on this year’s free-agent market, agreed Monday to a five-year, $82-million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The St. Louis Cardinals also filled the outfield void created by the death of prospect Oscar Taveras by acquiring right fielder Jason Heyward in a four-player trade that sent pitcher Shelby Miller to the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers had interest in Martin, but they had no interest in a contract anywhere near that length for a player of that age. Martin will be 36 when the contract expires in 2019.

In 2018, the Dodgers are committed to $107 million for five players, none of whom will be younger than 30: Clayton Kershaw ($33 million at 30), Zack Greinke ($24 million at 34), Adrian Gonzalez ($21.5 million at 36), Matt Kemp ($21.5 million at 34) and Hyun-jin Ryu ($7 million at 31). Grienke can opt out of his contract after next season.


Martin batted .290 with 11 home runs and a career-high 402 on-base percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. He also threw out 39 percent of runners trying to steal. He was born in the Toronto area and grew up in Montreal.

Martin started his career with the Dodgers and made the All-Star team twice in five seasons. The Dodgers did not offer him a contract after the 2010 season, declining to guarantee him even $5 million after a hip injury and consecutive seasons with an OPS under .700.

Heyward, 25, an elite defensive outfielder, batted .271 with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the Braves last season. He is eligible for free agency after next season, although players such as Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds have come to St. Louis in trades and chosen to stay.

The Cardinals had juggled Taveras, Jon Jay, Allen Craig and former Angels Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos among center and right field last season. They included Craig in the trade that brought John Lackey from the Boston Red Sox last summer, and Bourjos now could be expendable.


The Braves also sent ex-Angels reliever Jordan Walden to St. Louis in the trade and in return acquired pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins. Miller, 24, went 10-9 with a 3.74 earned-run average last season. He is not eligible for free agency for another four years.

The Braves, building toward the opening of their new ballpark in 2017, have signed first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, closer Craig Kimbrel, outfielder B.J. Upton and starter Julio Teheran at least through 2017 and have focused on building the pitching staff.



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