Russell Martin was once a top prospect for the Dodgers in the mid-2000s and had a successful second tour with the team in 2019. He came up huge in the playoffs — despite it not being enough to get out of the first round — and provided a welcome veteran presence all year long for Los Angeles. He also was a fantastic mentor according to reports, for rookie catcher Will Smith.
Now, according to Jon Heyman, the 36-year-old catcher is planning to return to the league for a 15th season. As Heyman notes, there was some speculation that he could retire, citing his declining defensive ability and the second half tail off of his bat, but he still has value. He provides such as a steady backup catcher, fantastic clubhouse guy, and veteran mentor.
Russell Martin, 36, is working out already and plans to return for a 15th season next year. There had been some retirement speculation but he remains hungry. In his 14 seasons he’s played for 10 postseason teams but has yet to play for a World Series winner.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2019
The odds that Martin returns to the Dodgers are very slim considering that the club appears set at the position for the near future. Will Smith will return in 2020 as the team’s starting catcher with Austin Barnes most likely set to back him up and super-prospect Keibert Ruiz looming.
On the season with the Dodgers, Martin posted a .220 batting average but a pretty solid .337 on-base percentage, partially due to a fantastic 12.0 percent walk rate. Through just 83 games, Martin was worth 1.2 WAR, an impressive number for a 36-year-old catcher getting a negligible amount of at-bats.
He also one was one of the few Dodgers that hit this past postseason going 2-4 with home run and a walk in his lone NLDS start — an outing that put him in some elite company.
More importantly, he provided 4 innings of scoreless relief, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 2 on the mound. Moreover, his versatility proved to be something of a historic asset for Los Angeles.
Best of luck to Russ in the next stage of his career.