Ever since the Blue Jays made their biggest free agent splash under GM, Alex Anthopoulos last winter and signed Russell Martin for $85M, Dioner Navarro has been the odd man out. Months ago, he said he was hoping the Blue Jays could find a trade partner that would allow him to play everyday. That didn’t happen. And, as winter turned to spring, Navarro found himself looking at back up duties and DHing. This presents a problem when you have other, more potent bats like that of Edwin Encarnacion needing DH time.
Now that we are in the middle of the season and looking at the July 31st Trade Deadline sneaking up on us, there may be another opportunity for Navarro to get what he wants. When we take inventory of what the Blue Jays have available to other teams, we immediately look at young, talented studs that we just don’t want to give up. Then our thoughts turn to, ‘it would be nice if we could turn Dioner Navarro into some bullpen help’. We wonder if he could be packaged to a team that is looking for an upgrade behind the plate.
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Well, Steve Adams at MLBTR.com just outlined a list of potential catchers who might be available this summer. It doesn’t really look that good for Navarro. Adams points out that there may be several teams who would be looking for a backstop. Firstly, there are teams like the Rays who are looking at competing, but need more production out of the catcher position. The Minnesota Twins might be in the same boat.
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Now, teams that are competing might be less willing to give up pitching help. But, what about a team that is looking at potentially being “sellers”? These teams haven’t identified themselves just yet, but a quick look at the standings and the Marlins and White Sox stand out. They just happen to have pitching that could be available. Could the Blue Jays use Navarro to swing a deal?
Well, it might not be that easy. Adams’ field of catchers starts with Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers. Now, everyone is just about ready to write the Brewers off this season. And, Lucroy just might be an attractive option. He’s the owner of a contract that teams would really get excited about. He’s 29 and is making $3M this year, $4M next year and has a $5.25M team option for the following year. Lucroy is a career .282 hitter who can hit you roughly 15 HR. HE was an All Star in 2014 and finished 4th in MVP voting.
Lucroy might be the cream of the crop, but Adams lists other everyday catchers that might be available. Stephen Vogt of the Athletics and Derek Norris of the Padres could all be more appealing options than Dioner Navarro given that they are considered everyday players.
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Then, there is the list of catchers who are older and backing up the full time guys. This is where Navarro fits in. This group includes Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies and Alex Avila of the Tigers who appears to be losing ground to James McCann. Navarro is 31 and a free agent at the end of the year when his $5M is paid. Ruiz is 36 and making $8.5M this season, $8.5 next with a $4.5M option for 2017. Avila is 28 and will hit the open market when Navarro does. Of the three, Navarro might be the better bargain given that Avila’s bat has been slipping for a while now and Ruiz is making so much guaranteed money.
If I were shopping him, I’d start with the following: Navarro is a career .255 hitter (.313 OBP). In his everyday role last season, he produced 12 HR and 69 RBI to go along with 22 doubles. He is a switch hitter who showed that he can handle the everyday duties of catching. He put up 2.0 WAR in 2014. If I were looking at buying him, I’d be looking to pay as little as possible, so I’d point to his defense where Fans Scouting Report has him worth -10 runs above average. I might also point out that, according to StatCorner.com, Navarro has cost his pitchers -19 calls this season. In fact, he’s also near the bottom of the AL in oStr%. Imagine that over a full season.
What does all of this mean? Well, if we are hoping that Dioner Navarro is going to net us a bullpen arm of value, or that he’ll be part of a package that will add a big starting pitcher, we might need to reel that in a bit. Given the group of potential catching options this summer, Dioner Navarro may not be quite the hot commodity we’d hoped he’d be. Realistically speaking, we might be able to turn him into some help. Remember, we turned Eric Thames into Steve Delabar. But, realistically, we can expect that the return for Dioner Navarro may not be enough to heavily impact this team. That kind of move will take a lot more.