Dioner Navarro the newest Blue Jay signed for two years and $8 million total. He will earn $3 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015. For a starting Catcher that really is not very much. Not in today’s market where Brian McCann got 5 years and $85 million from the Yankees. Or where recently suspended Shortstop Jhonny Peralta received $53 million over 4 years from the Cardinals. Teams are all flush with rich TV contracts and baseball being at its most popular since the Steroid-era at its highest.
So why are some people in the twitter-sphere already complaining about this deal? Could it be that other than Dioner’s great walk year in 2013 he has been in the wilderness for most of his career? It is a real concern. Could people really love J.P. Arencibia that much that they are devastated he is losing his job with Toronto? Doubtful.
The Jays have three main areas of must-improve-now on their roster, the Starting Rotation, Second Base and Catcher. J.P. Arencibia was terrible last year. Like historically terrible. He struck out in 29% of all his plate appearances and only had an OBP of .227. Arencibia will not be this historically bad again next year. His season was an outlier. While he still clubbed 21 home runs he didn’t provide much else of value. Defensively the only part of his game that is considered above average is his pitch framing, the understanding of which is still murky at best. To check out more sports news and get in on the betting action, please visit Sports Betting Dime.
Dioner had a fantastic year where he got on base at a clip of .365 except this is also an outlier. Outlier’s are funny things, they can swing both ways and fans and front offices need to be aware of what that means. For Navarro it means that he will probably be closer to his career average .313 OBP, which is still a huge improvement over what the Jays had last year.
Since the deal is two years it seems like a perfect bridge contract for the team to see what they have in top catching prospect A.J. Jimenez, who last year played across three levels, ending with 8 games at AAA. Unfortunately his season was cut short due to nerve irritation in his throwing elbow. Jimenez is only 23 years old, and in two years they should know what they have in him. Currently he is projected to be a plus defender with a potential to be a league average hitter (as far as the C position has to offer). If his bat keeps progressing it will be hard for the team not to promote him in the next year or two.
J.P. Arencibia had a decent start to his career in Toronto but wore out his welcome arguing with media members and over reacting to mean spirited tweets directed towards him. He still has value as a Catcher who has yet to spend any significant time on the disabled list and has some pop in his bat, something that will always be in demand to some teams. If you even out both Dioner and J.P.’s outlier seasons over their careers you have similar players as far as their overall value is concerned. Arencibia needs a new start, even if that means he, Aaron Hill’s us for another team (Hill has been putting up near MVP numbers in Arizona, after sucking for the last few years in a Jays uniform). General Manager Alex Anthopoulos stated that Arencibia will not be the team’s backup and with the signing of Navarro and Josh Thole already under contract and having Jimenez and Mike Nickeas in AAA there is no room in this organization for him.
Arencibia was not tendered a contract, as a first year arbitration eligible player automatically makes him a free agent, able to sign with any team. Anthopoulos worked tirelessly to acquire as much as a bag of balls for old Jonathon Paul. His new team may view him as a starter but ultimately his career will end up as him being a very durable backup catcher who runs into the odd fastball for a homerun.
What Navarro brings to this team is below average to average defense depending on what metrics you use and at best he will be a near elite hitting catcher and at worst still a hell of a lot better than Arencibia in 2013. Just don’t expect much in the way of power but the ability to take a walk a lot more than his predecessor. It is an upgrade, not by a lot but one nonetheless. With the contract Navarro is being paid the GM better be putting that savings to good use and signing at least one Starting Pitcher, if not two.