Russell Martin has signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays according to several reports. The first report was from Peter Gammons.
Told Toronto got Martin for “McCann money”
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) November 17, 2014
This is somewhat of a homecoming for Martin. He was born in Toronto but raised in Montreal. Not for nothing, the Blue Jays, with Martin will play two games in April at Olympic Stadium.
Martin has said that the idea of wearing a Major League uniform in Montreal would be a dream come true. He made his Major League debut in 2006, two years after the Expos left.
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The Blue Jays confirmed the signing Tuesday morning.
Martin had one of his best offensive seasons this year with the Pittsburgh Pirates but his defence is where a lot of his value comes into play. Martin threw out a higher percentage of base stealers than any other catcher in baseball and his pitch framing, according to several studies, is among the best in baseball as well.
With a team like the Blue Jays who have a lot of young pitchers, that may be his best asset. You have to imagine that Martin – who performed well for Team Canada at the 2009 World Baseball Classic in Toronto – wanted to play for a Canadian team.
This may also be a marketing move for the Blue Jays. There is no secret that they want to prove that they can spend money. They also want to be Canada’s team until – and especially after – a team returns to Montreal.
Playing the exhibition games is a part of that, and you can imagine a lot of Montreal baseball fans, some of which grew to dislike the Blue Jays, will have a little more attention paid on Toronto this season.
Don’t think that this is an $82 million baseball move. There are a lot of other factors to why this move makes sense for the Blue Jays on and off the field.
I was skeptical of the reaction that the Blue Jays games at Olympic Stadium would muster the second year around. The excitement and novelty is off, but this reinvigorates the crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get even more fans for the two games than they did last year – especially if the Blue Jays make other moves this Spring.
You now have two of Canada’s best players ever in Martin and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto set to play here in April.