Jays pick up Brito, Sopko for Martin

Dodgers send two prospects to Toronto for veteran catcher

Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko each join their second organization in Toronto. (Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography, Shane Roper/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | January 11, 2019 3:25 PM

Russell Martin is headed back to Hollywood, and that means two prospects are going north of the border.

The Blue Jays acquired Minor Leaguers Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko from the Dodgers in exchange for the veteran Major League catcher, both clubs announced Friday. Toronto is also sending cash to Los Angeles to help defray the $20 million Martin is owed for the 2019 season before becoming a free agent.

Tweet from @BlueJays: OFFICIAL: We've acquired SS Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko from the @Dodgers in exchange for C Russell Martin and cash considerations. pic.twitter.com/KWr73sraR5

Brito was the only ranked prospect of the pair, checking in at No. 23 on MLB.com's ranking of Dodgers farmhands. The 19-year-old shortstop signed for $2 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015, and after struggling offensively in his first two seasons, he broke out with the bat in 2018, hitting .288/.352/.489 with 11 homers and 11 doubles in 53 games with Rookie-level Ogden and being named both a Pioneer League mid- and post-season All-Star. Brito's best grades are reserved for his defensive work at short, where he's considered plus with both the glove and arm. He also has the potential to be an above-average runner. He'll turn 20 in March and should break Spring Training with a full-season club for the first time.

Video: Ronny Brito goes deep

Sopko was a seventh-round pick out of Gonzaga in 2015 and is coming off his own strong season. The 24-year-old right-hander ranked fourth in the Dodgers organization with a 3.52 ERA over 117 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. He also struck out 121 batters while walking only 27. His 5.4 percent walk rate was fourth-best among Dodgers pitchers with at least 400 batters faced in 2018.

Going the other way, Martin rejoins Los Angeles, the club that drafted him in the 17th round in 2002 and with which he spent his first five Major League season from 2006-10. The catcher, who turns 36 on Feb. 15, hit .194/.338/.325 with 10 homers in 90 games last season for the Blue Jays and is considered an above-average framer behind the plate. The move clears the way for No. 65 overall prospect Danny Jansen to assume full-time catching duties in Toronto after the 23-year-old played 31 games with the big club last year. With the Dodgers, Martin could serve as a stopgap and mentor for catching prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, who may reach the Majors in 2019.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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