Will Blue Jays Marco Estrada Miss Dioner Navarro?


With Dioner Navarro heading to the White Sox, we wonder if Marco Estrada will miss the battery mate that helped him succeed with Blue Jays.

The general consensus of fans would like Blue Jays Russell Martin to catch 161 games next season, but the general consensus would also like Russell Martin to walk when he’s forty. The catching situation in Toronto, might be one of the only question marks regarding position players entering 2016. With Russell Martin locked up for years to come, A.J Jiminez still having to develop in the minors, the unknown of where recently signed Josh Thole fits into the organization, and main backup catcher Dioner Navarro signing a one year/ four million dollar deal with the Chicago White Sox. The Blue Jays will definitely will need to find a back up for Martin, wether that’s through promoting Thole to a bigger position, or finding one through free agency or trade.

The Blue Jays biggest acquisition this offseason, was the resigning of starting pitcher Marco Estrada. Starting in 29 games to a 3.13 ERA in 2015, Estrada was the best pitcher for the Blue Jays from start to finish in the 2015 season. Through Marco’s season long success, the one constant to his good play was his catcher Dioner Navarro.

The day Dioner Navarro signed with the White Sox it was reported on Tim and Sid, that in nineteen of Marco Estrada’s starts with Navarro catching he pitched to an ERA of 2.63, in the fourteen starts without Navarro catching, Estrada pitched to a 4.11 ERA. These two splits can be quite shocking, but there’s more to these numbers that might suggest they are not as glaring as we think.

The departure of Navarro should be no surprise for Blue Jays fans. After an incredible 2014 season, the one time All-Star Navarro would ask to for a trade at the beginning of the 2015 season. Navarro wanted to be an everyday catcher, he will certainly be that number one option next year in Chicago.That stat is really hard to get out of your head, it’s been in mine for days now. The difference of almost a run and a half, just by changing the catcher is tough to fathom. Fourteen starts is not a small sample size, but looking at the splits of Marco’s pitching with/without Navarro, a lot of those inflated numbers are found when Marco was starting out the season.

At the beginning of the season Marco was still fighting for a starting spot, struggling with finding his rhythm with both catchers. When July/August hit, the Navarro and Estrada bond had well been established, and at that late second half of the season is where Marco took off on the mound. In 87.0 IP during the first half Estrada would throw to a 3.52ERA, during the second half Marco would drop his ERA to 2.78 in 94.0 IP.

The improvement to Estrada’s game didn’t all come from Navarro, but his establishment within the rotation, the drastic improvement in his fastball which coincides with him mixing in his deadly changeup. (I wrote a while back on the improvements Marco made to his game this year) Estrada’s great play was more of a result of all his pitches coming together, to reach a new potential that Estrada has never reached. The Blue Jays signing Estrada to two years/ twenty-six million dollar contract, was an absolute steal. This deal was truly the perfect win-win deal the Blue Jays were looking for when they signed Estrada.

Next: Minor League Wrap Up: L Thomas

Will Navarro be missed? Absolutely! Dioner would be one of the best backup catchers in the entire league. Although the Blue Jays view Navarro as a back up, in the eyes of Navarro, he’s not a backup, and he’s good enough that he shouldn’t be. Navarro is good enough to start on a lot of teams in the MLB, even some pretty decent ones. It will remain open to who will catch Estrada next season, whether it be Martin, or someone else. Estrada will continue to be productive no matter who catches him.