May 28, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Montreal native Russell Martin is set to officially announce his retirement.
The veteran catcher, who hasn’t played a big league game since 2019, told Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre during an interview for their La Poche bleue podcast that he’ll make the formal announcement on social media in the next few days.
Martin, who turned 39 in February, cited his family as the primary reason for his decision, telling Latendresse and Lapierre that he has two young children at home and another on the way in August.
Since 2019, Martin had been non-committal about his playing status. When asked, he had kept open the possibility of a return.
Selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2002 MLB draft, Martin, a Junior National Team grad who was born in East York, Ont., but moved to Montreal at age 2, cemented himself as the club’s top catching prospect with a breakout season in double-A Jacksonville in 2005. He would make his big league debut with the Dodgers on May 5, 2006.
Over his next four seasons with the Dodgers, Martin developed into an All-Star, a Gold Glove Award recipient and a Silver Slugger Award winner. He also captured the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award in 2007 as the top Canuck player.
After the 2010 season, he signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent and belted 18 and 21 home runs in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
On November 30, 2012, he left the Bombers to sign a two-year, $17-million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His 2014 campaign with the Bucs might be the finest of his career. Not only did he hit .290 and have a .402 on-base percentage, but he also had a 2.2 dWAR and finished 13th in the National League MVP voting. The gritty Canuck was also a leader in the clubhouse and helped propel the Pirates to their first playoff appearance in over two decades in 2013.
Following the 2014 campaign, Martin was lured to the Toronto Blue Jays with a five-year, $82-million contract and the investment paid off. Martin would help lead the Blue Jays to their first postseason appearance in 22 years in 2015.
In his parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays from 2015 to 2018, he registered a .336 on-base percentage and belted 66 home runs in 447 games.
Martin last played in the majors with the Dodgers in 2019, batting .220 and posting a .337 on-base percentage in 83 games. That year, he reached the postseason for the 10th time in 14 major league campaigns.
In all, Martin suited up for 14 big league seasons and he ranks in the top 10 among Canadians in many major league statistical categories, including third in All-Star Game appearances (4), fourth in games (1,693), fifth in runs (803), sixth in hits (1,416) and seventh in home runs (191).