Do the Blue Jays still intend to trade Dioner Navarro?


The Toronto Blue Jays signed Russell Martin on November 18th to upgrade the team behind the plate. With Martin now the starter, incumbent catcher Dioner Navarro stated two days later that he would prefer a trade to a back-up role and the Blue Jays were seemingly inclined to grant that request.

So why hasn’t anything happened yet?

Navarro will turn 31-years-old in February, but is coming off a fine season behind the plate. His 2.0 fWAR was his highest since 2009 and his 139 games played were a career high for the career back-up. He was strong at the dish, putting together a .274/.317/.395 slash-line with 12 home runs, 69 RBI, and a wRC+ of 98, which was 5th among Major League catchers.

Next: Could Blue Jays trade for a closer?

Considering the catching needs around baseball, teams should be lining up at the door to take Navarro off the Jays hands, especially with a reasonable contract of just $5 million in 2015. The Arizona Diamondbacks have been mentioned as being interested, but nothing seems to have materialized out of that. Equally so, the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies were said to be looking for upgrades at catcher.

But for the various levels of interest and need out there, Dioner Navarro still sports a Blue Jays jersey as we head into the New Year and there doesn’t appear to be a resolution coming up in that regard. The reasoning for that could be two-fold.

Firstly, he could seemingly have more value to the Blue Jays than he does to other teams. Toronto has discussed using Navarro as the team’s primary designated hitter in 2015, and given the team’s lack of left-handed bats, Navarro could certainly provide some solid depth in that regard. He also serves as a more than capable back-up for Martin should an injury arise.

However, having Navarro as the team’s primary DH has a few problems of its own. For one, Navarro isn’t your prototypical DH as he doesn’t drive the ball consistently enough to make me feel comfortable in that role. There’s also the matter of Justin Smoak, who seems a bit redundant other than being a back-up first baseman/pinch hitter if Navarro is the full-time DH. With those two reasons in mind, Navarro’s biggest value to the Blue Jays is as a trade bait, both to bring in a viable return and to clear some salary off the books.

More from Jays Journal

That leads me to the second possibility for why this deal hasn’t gone down; Alex Anthopoulos simply isn’t getting a viable return option. Teams are aware that the Blue Jays are in a position where they NEED to trade Navarro or miscast him. Teams are naturally going to low-ball the seller in that regard, knowing that the need to move the player may be motivation enough to take a below-market deal rather than risk an unhappy player when camp opens up.

That said, teams are also likely to try and low-ball Anthopoulos because of the precedent he set earlier this offseason. By moving Adam Lind at a low price, netting only failed-starter-turned-middling reliever Marco Estrada from the Milwaukee Brewers, the Blue Jays showed their motivation to move salary is a bit more important than the return they get back. While the Blue Jays may want to see a viable relief arm (see Brad Zeigler, Evan Marshall, Shawn Tolleson, Adam Ottavino) come back in a trade, it may be the offers are coming forward with guys that will be less of a sure thing.

So while we still expect to see Dioner Navarro traded this winter, the move is seemingly going to stretch on for a bit longer, and may last into Spring Training as team needs present themselves through injuries or performance. The Blue Jays may need to make a decision as to whether they can move forward in their search for other needs without having the freedom from Navarro’s deal, despite their wishes to have a clearer picture of available funds.

An earlier resolution is in the best interest of all parties, but it just doesn’t seem likely to happen in the immediate future.