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Dodgers acquire veteran Martin from Blue Jays

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers re-acquired catcher Russell Martin in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, providing themselves with a veteran stopgap behind the plate until their talented prospects are ready for the major leagues.

Martin, who will be 36 in the middle of February, is owed $20 million in the final year of his contract, but the Blue Jays are expected to pay a significant portion of that salary, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. In exchange, the Dodgers relinquished a couple of relatively undistinguished minor leaguers in starting pitcher Andrew Sopko and shortstop Ronny Brito.

Martin now joins Austin Barnes in what appears to be a tandem behind the plate, keeping the position warm for either Keibert Ruiz or Will Smith, both of whom seem bound for Triple-A. The Dodgers could settle for that construction, or they could continue to pursue Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Martin, a Gold Glove Award winner and Silver Slugger while spending his first five years with the Dodgers, batted only .208 in 181 games with the Blue Jays the last two seasons. But he reached base 34 percent of the time during that stretch and ranked sixth among 78 catchers in pitch framing in 2018, according to ESPN metrics.

Martin, a four-time All-Star and .249/.349/.399 career hitter, has been to the postseason in nine of his 13 seasons. His 1,519 games behind the plate rank third among active catchers, behind only Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Martin, who can also play third base, threw out a league-best 44 percent of would-be base-stealers in 2015, but only 17.4 percent over the next three seasons (seven percentage points below average).

Sopko, 24, posted a 3.52 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and a 3.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 117 2/3 innings at high A and Double-A last season. Brito, still only 19, batted .288/.352/.489 in rookie ball.

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