Yankees, Dodgers discussed — then nixed — a Russell Martin trade

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Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reports that the Yankees and Dodgers had serious discussions about a Russell Martin-for-Francisco Cervelli trade last night.  It got to the point where the teams were exchanging medical information and everything, but it fell through.  It’s unclear if Martin’s health — he’s had issues with his hip — was a factor, but ultimately talks broke off and Martin was non-tendered. Though nothing happened, we can glean a couple of things from this non-trade.

  • First, the Yankees really have no intention of letting Posada behind the dish that much. If they did, they’d be fine in letting him be the fallback position if Jesus Montero can’t hack it. Going for someone like Martin shows they’re not fine with that.
  • Second, it shows that they likewise only see Francisco Cervelli as a backup. Yeah, he had some moments last year and yes, there is a certain brand of Yankees fan who thinks he’s all that, but the Yankees clearly don’t.
  • Finally, it suggests that Martin’s health may still be a problem. This is just speculation on my part — and Martin’s agent said last night that Martin’s hip is fine — but it’s not likely that this trade was derailed by three component players, cash and a player to be named later.

In other news, between Dunn, Rivera, A.J. Pierzynski, Jose Lopez and the other assorted rumors, I think more stuff happened between 4PM and midnight last night than happened in the two weeks leading up to last year’s Winter Meetings.  There’s definitely a thaw in baseball transactions this year compared to years past, so fasten your seat belts these next couple of weeks.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.