Former Blue Jays, Dioner Navarro, will attempt to make a comeback to baseball, as he’s signed with the Independent League, Long Island Ducks.
Before the Blue Jays went out and signed Russell Martin to a five year, 82 million dollar deal before the 2015 season, they had a pretty decent starting catcher already in Dioner Navarro. Navarro had taken over as the starter in 2014 and had a solid year, but the opportunity to sign Martin was an upgrade the Blue Jays couldn’t pass on at that time.
As a result, he went to Chicago to play for the White Sox for the 2016 season, but also returned to Toronto to finish off that season, playing in 16 games down the stretch as the Jays secured their second consecutive playoff appearance.
When the 2017 season rolled around, many Blue Jays fans thought the club should bring back to the likeable switch-hitter to be the back-up catcher behind Martin. Unfortunately, Navarro not only didn’t come back to Toronto that season, he was out of baseball completely.
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For the now 34 year old, it wasn’t a lack of interest in his services that kept him out of the game, but rather a personal decision. In fact, the decision he made should earn the respect of baseball fans everywhere, and provide a mountain of support as he attempts to return to the highest level. Navarro took over a year off to take care of his ailing wife, who had significant enough health concerns that the 13 year veteran decided to put his career on hold. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with a brain aneurism and while waiting for surgery, she suffered a stroke and even fell into a coma. For more details, here is our own Clayton Richer’s article from over a year ago on what went down.
I couldn’t respect that decision any more than I do.
A professional athlete’s window of opportunity to play isn’t that big, and when you’re catcher your career can be even shorter than the average big leaguer. Add in the fact that Navarro had become a fringe starter by the time he took over a year off, and he may have seriously jeopardized his chances of ever playing another MLB game.
That said, I don’t think there’s any debate about whether or not he made the right decision. In life, family always has to come first, and Navarro is a great example of putting your priorities in the right order. With career earnings of more than 24 million dollars, no amount of money or extended career that is worth putting your family on the back burner, especially in a time of need like what the Navarro’s experienced.
It’s great to see that things have progressed well enough for him to feel comfortable making this comeback attempt. We here at Jays Journal wish him nothing but the best of luck, and hope to see a standing ovation at the Rogers Centre for the former Blue Jay.