According to Ken Rosenthal, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed free agent catcher Dioner Navarro to a two year contract, pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 2, 2013
In 89 games played for the Chicago Cubs in 2013, Navarro managed to post a line of .300/.365/.492. His line was slightly inflated by a .307 BABIP, but a decent walk rate combined with a 13.5 % strike out rate all but ensures that Navarro would be an offensive upgrade over Arencibia in 2014. In addition to his offense Navarro has been a positive defensive player in each of his MLB seasons as per Fangraphs.
While not the sexiest of the remaining catchers on the free agent market, Navarro is a risk/reward signing. The reward is obviously his effectiveness in recent seasons. The risk comes in that Navarro hasn’t caught more than 90 games since 2009.
With so much at stake this season, and Josh Thole entrenched as the back up, the Blue Jays are rolling the dice that Navarro will be able to handle the rigours of full-time catching duties. With the way the team trotted J.P. Arencibia out behind the plate day in and day out despite minor injury and major ineffectiveness, it seems more than likely that Navarro will surpass 90 games played barring a catastrophic injury.
The handsomeness levels of the Blue Jays catching position has certainly been downgraded, but the Blue Jays have just upgraded just about every other aspect of the position with the signing of Navarro. With the change the number of dingers hit by Blue Jays catchers is almost sure to severely decrease, along with that decrease in the long ball will come a greater and more impactful decrease in the number of outs by the position.
Navarro certainly has his flaws, and isn’t the saviour that some will make him out to be over the next few days, but he is a significant upgrade, and we no longer have to deal with J.P. So rejoice Blue Jays fans, something happened.
Navarro gets $8M over 2 years with jays
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 2, 2013
If this turns out to be the case, this is a steal by the Jays. At the current market rate, he’ll need to put up something like 1.3 fWAR over the two years to justify it (not that 1.3 fWAR would be acceptable).