1st Base Option Dioner Navarro?


There was some mention the other day by Barry Davis on Twitter that Dioner Navarro was taking balls at First Base during batting practice. This pops up a lot of questions that could possibly shape the lineup. First thing that comes to mind is that management might possibly be re-thinking the Justin Smoak/ Daric Barton experiment. Neither of them have had a breakout spring at the plate but have excelled with their gloves. Edwin Encarnacion has been thought to be our everyday First Basemen but has been dealing with back issues all spring. To keep him healthy for an entire season he may have to spend the majority of his time at DH. With that being said Danny Valencia in my opinion is the best option at first base currently. He has hit better then the other options and plays decent defense as well.

Moving into the Navarro idea. I have been a firm believer that if Navarro is not traded that his bat needs to be in the lineup as much as possible. His style of hitting really played well in the Rogers Centre last season. He was able to post a .300 batting average at home and hit 9 of his 12 home runs there. Overall Navarro was one of the more clutch batters in the lineup last season. Posting 69 RBI and a .343 batting average with runners in scoring position can not be ignored. That is no minor stat and shows how valuable he can be to a team. Him being a switch hitter will also help in our very right handed line up. His bat without a doubt needs to be in our lineup one way or the other.

With his bat doing so much talking last season where does he fit in now that the team has Russell Martin? Pushing Navarro to the back up catching role after a solid year just seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I think he can play a few games in that role or spell Martin one day a week to catch Mark Buehrle for example. Pushing him into a reserve role however is not properly utilizing his talents.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

This begs to question where he could be placed. I have been wondering why he has not had an audition at first base all spring. I figure that Navarro was not a fan of switching positions and fought the idea to begin with. Now that it appears he would be getting limited at bats due to Encarnacion being the DH he may be changing his mind. I do not expect Navarro to be a great defender at first but I do think he will be average. He will have no issues picking at first but his range would be the issue. Nothing against Navarro but he is probably the slowest runner on the team. This would lead me to think that he isn’t going to have the greatest range. His reflexes should be good for the position which could offset some of the range issues. Catchers in general have translated well over the years to first basemen. One of our best first basemen in Jays history started as a catcher and played decent defense at the position. Of course I am referring to Carlos Delgado.

I think this would be a logical decision for Navarro’s career. He is currently 31 and has had some knee issues this spring. I am a fan of the idea because I think Navarro is way to valuable to the everyday lineup to sit on the bench. I think with practice he could make for an average defensive solution at first base. This move could possibly lengthen his career and keep his solid bat in a lineup that could really use his switch hitting abilities.

All Statistic information provided by baseball-reference.com.

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