Blue Jays Face Decision with Dioner Navarro


Dioner Navarro was a fine starting catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014.  Despite some defensive shortcomings, Navarro managed a diverse pitching staff extremely well and provided a valuable bat near the middle of the order.  The arrival of Russell Martin undoubtedly changes Navarro’s role, though, and could create a new trade chip for Alex Anthopoulos.

Dioner Navarro is due just $5M in 2015, a relative bargain for his potential production, and the Toronto Blue Jays have several directions they could go with him.  In 2014, Navarro contributed 12 HR’s and 69 RBI’s while splitting his time between C and DH.

The first option is for the Blue Jays to do nothing at all.  Depending on how John Gibbons plans on putting together the starting nine, the Jays could still have a vacancy at DH which could be co-operatively filled by Navarro and Russell Martin.  The far-superior defensive catcher, Martin would see the majority of starts behind the plate, but the Blue Jays may be wise to limit the wear on his body if they hope keep him healthy and producing for the length of this contract.

Is Navarro the bat the Blue Jays want in their DH spot, though?  Do they not want more power out of the position?  Dioner Navarro is a professional hitter, and it would not surprise me to see his SLG creep back over .400 in 2015, but Alex Anthopoulos may believe that his $5M salary could be better spent on a Free Agent DH following a trade.

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Option number two is to move Dioner Navarro in a trade, who could now be an attractive target for teams seeking a starting Catcher.  The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates both come to mind after losing out on Russell Martin, themselves.  If someone like J.A. Happ were to be packaged in a deal, the Blue Jays could shed a sizeable chunk of salary.  A combination of the return in that deal and the financial savings could be turned into a solution at 2B, LF or the bullpen.

Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher, could play a role in this decision too.  Carrying three catchers on a roster is not ideal, but unless A.J. Jimenez makes another stride this Spring, Thole may not be sufficient depth behind the dish.

I see this as a situation that should end positively for the Blue Jays, regardless of the outcome.  If Dioner Navarro stays in Toronto, having him on the roster at $5M still provides a value to the Blue Jays.  If he is moved, then the Blue Jays could benefit from return personnel and increased financial flexibility.

We get the sense that there is much more to come in the Blue Jays Hot Stove season.  Will Navarro be a part of that?