Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas has his mask knocked off after being hit with… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
It looked as if the Dodgers had made a significant mistake.
On April 23, Russell Martin hit two home runs, giving him six in his first 16 games with the New York Yankees. Rod Barajas, whom the Dodgers signed after parting ways with Martin last winter, was batting .190 at the time.
Five months later, there isn't a major disparity between the catchers' numbers.
Martin is batting .236 with 17 home runs and 62 runs batted in.
Barajas began Thursday hitting .229 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.
In fact, Barajas had a higher OPS+ — on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, measured against the league average and adjusted to negate the effects of playing in particular ballparks.
Barajas' OPS+ was 96. Martin, who plays his home games in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, had an OPS+ of 91.
The only noticeable difference in the statistics is in games caught — Martin had started 114 games through Thursday; Barajas, 82 games.
But Barajas came significantly cheaper, as he signed a one-year, $3.8-million deal. Martin will receive $5.375 million.
Martin was not eligible for free agency last off-season until the Dodgers declined to tender him a contract, fearing he could be awarded about $6 million in the salary-arbitration process.
Barajas' future with the Dodgers is uncertain.
He turned 36 this month, and one of the two catching positions on next year's roster appears to belong to rookie A.J. Ellis.
"I've had so much fun," said Barajas, who grew up in nearby Norwalk.
Barajas said he has not spent much time wondering whether the Dodgers' home finale Thursday will be his final game at Dodger Stadium in a home uniform.
"I don't have time to think about that," Barajas said. "I live in the moment. If Thursday is my last day here, then it is. But hopefully, I'm still here next year."
Hiroki Kuroda will get $175,000 in bonus pay for reaching the 190-inning mark. If he reaches 200, he will be paid an additional $200,000. Kuroda, who was paid an $8-million base salary and a $4-million signing bonus, previously received $125,000 in bonus pay for pitching 180 innings. … Even though the San Diego Padres are out of postseason contention and the Arizona Diamondbacks aren't, Manager Don Mattingly said Clayton Kershaw would remain on his regular schedule and make his final start of the season Sunday in San Diego. … Three players in the Dodgers' system were selected to Baseball America's minor league all-star teams. Reliever Shawn Tolleson made the minor league all-star second team, outfielder Scott Van Slyke the double-A all-star team and outfielder Joc Pederson the rookie-level all-star team.