Sep 22, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) batting in the fourth inning against New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Q2: Who backs up Russell Martin at catcher?
The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed one of the league’s strongest catching duos in 2015, but Dioner Navarro‘s expiring contract makes the backup job the only positional blank entering 2016. If at all possible, re-signing Navarro needs to be a priority.
Organizational depth is thin at catcher as we continue to clench our teeth and wait for former first rounder Max Pentecost to even begin realizing his potential. Josh Thole will exist on as long as R.A. Dickey does, but outside of catching the knuckleball, he represents a dead spot on the roster.
Navarro offers up bench value as a switch-hit bat, but his work with Estrada and Buehrle in 2015 again displayed how underrated he is behind the plate. He did enjoy a career year against the opposing running game, but it is Navaro’s excellence in game management and pitch calling that sets him apart.
The biggest stumbling block here will be Navarro’s interest from elsewhere, as he’s surely looking to find one more shot at a starting gig. There’s a reason that Toronto struggled to find a trade partner early in the season, however, and with the young catching talent across the league currently, Navarro’s market could last well into free agency. If that’s the case, Toronto would be wise to re-invest in him. Besides, Russell Martin has some big money remaining on that deal, and he needs protecting.
Next: Q3: The logjam in the outfield