The first big news of the Blue Jays offseason has come as free agent catcher Dioner Navarro has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for two years and $8 million. A 29-year-old from Venezuela, Navarro played for the Chicago Cubs last season putting up a slash line of .300/.365/.492 with 14 home runs. He had a salary of $1.75 million last season, where he played in 89 games with 53 of them being starts behind the plate. The switch hitting catcher is solid enough behind the plate and he threw out 13 of 50 baserunners in his time with Chicago. Before 2013, Navarro had played with Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Dodgers (twice), Tampa Bay, and the Yankees.
He was involved in a scary collision this summer where he had to be carted off the field, but luckily only missed limited time:
Since 2009, Navarro has been mainly a reliable back-up who gets on-base enough to be an average reserve catcher. He accumulated 1.7 WAR last year and if he matches that for the next two years in Toronto then Blue Jays fans will be quite happy. Ken Rosenthal broke the news on Twitter:
The contract also breaks down into $3 million this year and $5 million in 2015:
Quite clearly, this means the J.P. Arencibia era is officially over in Toronto and Josh Thole will almost certainly stick around as a back-up who will catch R.A. Dickey. The news of Arencibia being non-tendered should come very soon as the deadline to tender a contract to an arbitration eligible player is tonight.
This seems like a very Alex Anthopoulos type of move that no one saw coming, but makes sense now that it's happened. Although he isn't Brian McCann, Navarro won't drive anyone crazy striking out 25% of the time, considering his K-rate last season was 13.5% and he's also not afraid of talking a walk finishing with a 8.6% BB-rate in 2013. Some fans will paint this as the Blue Jays betting on one good year from Navarro as a back-up in Chicago, but for $4 million per year the gamble seems to make financial sense. Catcher won't be a huge strength for the Blue Jays in the next two years, but there's a good chance it won't be a weakness either.
There will be a lot more to come with this story...