Blue Jays shouldn’t feel need to pair David Price with Navarro
When David Price stepped into the Toronto Blue Jays locker room, it was not without a familiar face. Catcher Dioner Navarro spent time with Price in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and only three catchers have worked more innings with Price in his career. This has brought us the same question several times over the past few days: “Should Navarro catch Price?”
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While the familiarity is nice, this is not a rookie pitcher in need of a cushion for first appearance. Price has been caught by 15 different Major League catchers in his still-young career, and if there’s ever time for a 16th, why not have it be a defensively gifted All Star who is streaking at the dish? The Blue Jays paid Russell Martin for a reason.
The link between Navarro and Price makes the question understandable, though, especially given the success the two have had. Over 128.1 career innings together, Price has produced a 3.09 ERA with an opponent’s batting average of .214.
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That’s encouraging, but frankly, Price and Martin are both professionals who are fully capable of hitting the ground running. While it may take a start for the two players to gain a comfort level with their strategy and become familiar with each other’s nuances, we need to look at the bigger picture of this home stretch. Not only is Martin a better defensive catcher than Navarro, he’s also enjoying his most productive offensive groove as a Blue Jay.
In 11 games since the All Star break, Martin has posted a .341 average with three home runs and eight RBI. He’s produced an incredible 1.050 OPS over that span, and in large part, that could be attributed to him coming back fresh from the break. Martin does take a beating as the Blue Jays’ regular catcher, which again brings us back to the need for some level of Navarro.
August sets up well for the Blue Jays, though, with four off days between now and August 24th. Not only will these allow Martin, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson to stay fresh, it will allow the Blue Jays to maximize their output from Price. Manager John Gibbons has said he plans to roll out Price every fifth day regardless of the rotation, which should ultimately add one or two starts to Price’s time in Toronto.
In my opinion, having Navarro catch Price is giving too much value to a link just because the link exists. Martin is one of the league’s premiere players at the position, and Price has the ability to plug in to any scenario and thrive. These two are not fresh-faced 21-year olds. Give them an inning or two, and everything should be just fine.
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