Dioner Navarro Rumors

AL Notes: Wright, Vazquez, Russell, Pelfrey

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News writes Spring Training is broken. Grant suggests reversing the current reporting schedule of players with minor leaguers and non-roster invitees reporting at the beginning of camp and the 40-man roster showing up ten days later. Grant also proposes expanding the roster to 28 for the month of April with 25 designated as active for games. This would allow teams, Grant reasons, to carry more pitching in April, as the hurlers continue to build their durability.

In today’s news and notes from the American League:

  • In a separate article, Grant reports the Rangers have informed Jamey Wright he will not make the team, but the right-hander has decided to remain in camp. “If they change their minds, I’m still here,” said Wright, who is an Article XX(B) free agent. “But, if not, I’m showcasing for all the other teams.” As an Article XX(B) free agent, the Rangers must pay Wright a $100K retention bonus, if they decide to keep him in their organization.
  • Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday increasing speculation his recent MRI results could lead to Tommy John surgery and the end to his season before it begins, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • Despite the uncertain status of Vazquez, the Red Sox have not engaged the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, tweets CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. With Vazquez’s injury, Heyman notes the Red Sox will give prized catching propsect Blake Swihart an extended look during the final week of Spring Training.
  • James Schmehl of MLive.com tweets he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers take a flyer on James Russell, even though the left-hander has had a terrible spring. The 29-year-old was released by the Braves Sunday morning.
  • The Tigers will only go as far as their veteran stars take them, but there is some important young talent on the roster and their performance could prove pivotal as the franchise bids for its fifth straight AL Central title, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan did not address whether Mike Pelfrey has requested a trade in the wake of the right-hander’s comments yesterday after losing the battle for a rotation spot, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Pelfrey threw one inning of perfect relief against the Orioles today needing just eight pitches in lowering his spring ERA to 1.23.
  • Ryan Madson, in camp with the Royals on a minor league contract, calls his comeback from elbow injuries “a challenge” and knows he can pitch again at the MLB level, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. “If it doesn’t happen here, I will see if there’s any other interest and will go from there,” said Madson, who has a May 1st opt-out. “I mean, I came in not knowing whether I could pitch on consecutive days or three times a week, and now I’m past that. I know what I can do and I want to pitch again in the Major Leagues.

East Notes: Vazquez, Braves, Navarro

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez says his recent elbow MRI “found something,” but there’s no diagnosis yet, the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier tweets. Vazquez will seek a second opinion. If the Red Sox were to need to replace Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan would be the obvious choice. If Vazquez were to need to miss significant time, there would likely be speculation about the promotion of top prospect Blake Swihart, who the Red Sox optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket last week. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • James Russell and Josh Outman have struggled this spring, widening the field of decisions the Braves will have to make as they set their roster, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes. The Braves could release either one and pay only about a quarter of their salaries. Outman, who’s set to make $925K after signing with the Braves in January, could be in particular danger, Bowman suggests. It now looks increasingly likely that Luis Avilan will make the team as one of the Braves’ bullpen lefties, with prospect Brady Feigl as another possibility.
  • There don’t appear to be any trades involving Dioner Navarro in the works, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Navarro, of course, became mostly superfluous to the Jays after they acquired Russell Martin. Navarro’s name had lately been connected to the Diamondbacks, although the D-backs have said they can’t afford his $5MM salary.

NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Dodgers, Navarro

The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest.  The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time.  The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019.  While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
  • The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign.  A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
  • The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera.  For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll.  The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.


AL East Notes: Navarro, Wieters, Matusz, Yankees

Here’s the latest from around the AL East…

  • The Diamondbacks still have interest in Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro, as Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair writes that the Snakes “have been trailing…Navarro for the better part of a week.”  Navarro himself recently said that he believed Arizona and Detroit were interested in acquiring his services, and both teams have room to upgrade behind the plate.
  • Matt Wieters will begin the season on the DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) that the lack of precedent for catchers recovering from the surgery is why the O’s pursued several backups this offseason.  “I think there’s a lot of unknown there. We’re hoping for the best,” Showalter said.  “They’ll have something to base the future on when the start trying to analyze this, because he’s been a model blueprint for rehab as far as what he’s done. We followed it to the letter of the law. Matt, if anything, has been above and beyond.”
  • Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, most notably in connection to the MetsMASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports that New York indeed still has interest in Matusz but would need the O’s to cover part of Matusz’s $3.2MM salary.  Previous reports have suggested the Orioles would be add some cash to make a deal happen, so there could be a bit if the two sides can make the numbers line up.
  • Scouts haven’t been impressed with either Carlos Beltran or Stephen Drew this spring, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports.  Neither of the two Yankees veterans are hitting well, and there is also question about Beltran’s ability to play right field.  This is a particularly important Spring Training for Drew, as his loose hold on the second base job could be broken entirely given the presence of Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.

Dioner Navarro Addresses Trade Speculation

Dioner Navarro was gearing up for his second season as the Blue Jays’ starting catcher when Toronto decided to make a massive splash by signing Russell Martin in November.  Navarro, an offensively-gifted catcher is his own right, was understandably unhappy with the prospect of seeing less at-bats at a new position.  Navarro asked for a trade days after Martin’s arrival and weeks ago he said that the D’Backs and Tigers were among the teams that have called on him.  For now, however, he’s keeping his focus solely on the field.

No not at this point. I really try to stay away from it now [laughs],” Navarro told MLBTR when asked if he’s heard of additional clubs that have interest in acquiring him. “I already said my feelings about it, whatever happens is going to happen.”

Navarro had a chat with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos earlier this offseason where both men were able to explain their positions.  In the weeks that have followed, Navarro said that he hasn’t heard from AA or anyone else in the front office about a potential deal.

No, I just had a conversation early during the offseason and we spoke our piece.  Since Spring Training started he expressed his feelings and I expressed my feelings and we’ll leave it at that.  We don’t need to be saying anything else, we gotta get ready for baseball season.

I think I’m at that point where I don’t even pay attention anymore, whether it’s here or somewhere else. I’m just trying to get ready and let my agent do what he’s got to do. If he gets something done, he’ll let me know,” the 31-year-old said.

In other words, if a trade is merely days away, Navarro doesn’t know about it.  The catcher also told MLBTR that he hasn’t given any thought to where he might potentially be a good fit.  In the interim, his plan is to do whatever is asked of him, even if he’s not all that gung ho about playing primarily in the DH spot.

There’s a little bit that I like about playing DH, but, I mean, I love playing behind the plate.  I love being in there every pitch every play, I love playing behind the plate, and I feel like myself behind the plate.  But, right now I want to help my team win.  In this case, if I stay with the Blue Jays I’d love to help them win and help them be in the postseason this year,” said Navarro.

It remains to be seen whether the Tigers, Diamondbacks, or another team will make a move for the well-traveled veteran, who will be a free agent again after the season.  Even if the outside interest is significant, a deal might not materialize for a while as Anthopoulos knows how valuable Navarro can be for a catching-needy team and is demanding a quality return for him.  In the interim, Navarro says he’s ready to give 100%, even if he’s only doing 50% of what he loves at present.


Dioner Navarro Says Tigers, D’Backs Have Shown Interest

Blue Jays backstop Dioner Navarro says that his understanding from his agent is that the Tigers and Diamondbacks are among the teams that have expressed interest in trading for him, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Navarro is currently slated to miss a few days after a minor knee injury, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets, so certainly there is not yet any reason to believe that anything is imminent.

Last we heard, the Jays remain open to dealing Navarro — as is his preference — but have little intention of shedding him for a minimal return. The veteran was bumped down the depth chart when Toronto signed Russell Martin, but is a reasonably appealing asset since he is under contract for just one more season at $5MM. With a league-average batting line and sturdy defensive results, Navarro checked in with about two wins above replacement last year, although framing measures would suggest a downgrade is in order.

Arizona’s lack of quality and depth at the catching position is rather well-established. For Detroit, veteran Alex Avila comes with injury concerns (not to mention a bat that has dipped below average) while backup Bryan Holaday is a marginal hitter and youngster James McCann has only minimal time at the MLB level. The switch-hitting Navarro, who is historically much better against southpaws, would make for a natural platoon mate with the righty-mashing Avila.


Dioner Navarro Still Hopes To Be Traded

FEB. 24: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media today and said he’d only consider trading Navarro into an everyday role, via Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link). Anthopoulos said he would consider deals that help the team now or down the line, as long as there’s good value in the return.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark adds that Anthopoulos would also consider in-season trades if nothing materializes in Spring Training (Twitter link).

FEB. 23: Earlier this offseason, Dioner Navarro reportedly expressed interest in a trade after watching his team sign Russell Martin to a five-year deal. Several months later as Spring Training gets underway, Navarro tells reporters, including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link) that he still would like be moved, but he’s ready to help the Blue Jays in 2015 if that doesn’t happen. Via MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (All Twitter links), here’s what Navarro had to say on the matter:

“I asked for a trade right away, and up to today that’s still my goal. I would like to go a place where I can play everyday. I signed a two-year deal here to catch every day, and unfortunately they felt like they needed to make a move. I was kind of frustrated throughout the whole offseason, a little disappointed that nothing has happened yet.”

Navarro’s frustration is understandable, but his market has likely been dampened by the fact that teams with a seeming need behind the plate have done little to address that weakness. The D-Backs appear content to use Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch at catcher until prospect Peter O’Brien is ready. The White Sox have added Geovany Soto on a minor league deal, and the Rangers traded for backup Carlos Corporan rather than pursuing an upgrade with more upside at the plate. The Pirates appear set with a defensive-minded tandem of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Perhaps the Rays could be considered a team with a need behind the plate, but they’re also prioritizing defense, deploying Rene Rivera as their primary receiver. The Tigers, who are concerned about Alex Avila’s ongoing concussion issues, have had internal discussions about Navarro.

MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined Navarro as a trade candidate, noting that while the 31-year-old is coming off a solid season with the bat (.274/.314/.395) and has a salary that isn’t exactly prohibitive ($5MM), Navarro ranked near the bottom of the league in both throwing out base-runners and pitch framing.

While there may not be an obvious fit for Navarro at the moment — at least not one that appears to be interested in upgrading at catcher — he could become a target for a team that incurs an injury to a starting catcher in Spring Training. Even then, however, there are multiple options on the market, as both Welington Castillo and Wilin Rosario could likely be had in trades as well (though the latter’s defense is particularly poorly regarded).


Quick Hits: Bochy, Navarro, Moncada, Profar

Giants manager Bruce Bochy underwent a medical procedure to insert two stents into his heart and is now resting comfortably in a Scottsdale hospital, according to a team press release.  “Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy’s heart after he experienced some discomfort,” according to the statement.  The skipper is scheduled to be released on Friday and he’s already sent texts to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (both Twitter links) saying that he’ll be back in camp in a couple of days.  We at all MLBTR wish Bochy all the best in his recovery.

Here’s some news from around baseball…

  • The Blue Jays aren’t actively discussing a Dioner Navarro trade with any other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Earlier this week, I examined Navarro as a trade candidate since Russell Martin has taken over the starting catcher’s job in Toronto.
  • A rival executive believes the Yankees are the top contender to sign Yoan Moncada, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports in a roundup of the Moncada market.  The Yankees aren’t keen, however, on paying a bonus in the $40-$50MM range, which is what some sources say Moncada will probably receive.
  • With Jurickson Profar likely to miss another full season due to shoulder injuries, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could spell the end of Profar’s time with the Rangers.  It’s hard to believe Texas would consider non-tendering a former top-ranked prospect Profar when he’s eligible for arbitration next winter, yet Grant is right in noting that the Rangers might just move on with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in the middle infield.
  • Left-hander Joe Beimel is reportedly hoping to land a multi-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets.  Beimel reportedly had three teams interested in him in late January, though one of those clubs (the Mariners) looks to be out of the running.  Though Beimel had a solid season with the M’s in 2014, it’s hard to see him landing more than a one-year deal at this stage of the offseason given his age (he turns 38 in April) and injury history (missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery).
  • Also from Dutton, the arbitration hearing between the Mariners and Tom Wilhelmsen will take place on Friday.  The reliever is one of just three remaining players with outstanding arb cases, as per the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.  Wilhelmsen is looking for $2.2MM for his 2015 contract while Seattle has countered with a $1.4MM offer.

Trade Candidate: Dioner Navarro

Catcher didn’t seem to be an obvious area of upgrade for the Blue Jays heading into the offseason, yet the team made a big splash by signing Russell Martin to a five-year, $82MM free agent deal.  This immediately turned incumbent Jays catcher Dioner Navarro into a possible trade candidate, and indeed, at least three teams asked about Navarro in the wake of Martin’s signing.  Navarro himself even inquired about being dealt somewhere where he could receive everyday playing time.

This trade speculation was certainly not what Navarro was expecting coming off his solid 2014 campaign.  After signing a two-year, $8MM deal with the Jays in December 2013, the switch-hitting Navarro hit .274/.317/.395 with 12 homers last season, reaching new career highs in plate appearances (520) and games played (139).  Defense, however, was another story, as Navarro ranked near the bottom of the league in terms of pitch-framing and throwing out baserunners.MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

As he’s scheduled for free agency next winter, Navarro obviously wants a better platform than a backup catcher/part-time DH role to boost his value as he looks ahead to his next trip into the open market.  Keeping Navarro as a backup makes a lot of sense for Toronto despite the presence of another catcher (Josh Thole) on the roster.  If Martin can handle R. A. Dickey‘s knuckleball, then Thole’s role as Dickey’s personal catcher becomes redundant, and Navarro offers far more hitting value than Thole.

On the other hand, the Jays are looking to add relievers despite limited payroll space; moving Navarro and his $5MM 2015 salary seems like a logical way to free up some money for further transactions.  The Jays are reportedly asking for pitching in return in any Navarro trade, so they’re clearly exploring this strategy already.

The Diamondbacks and Tigers are two teams who have been linked to Navarro on the rumor mill this winter, though Detroit’s interest has been limited to internal discussions at this point.  Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch project as Arizona’s starting catching combo in the wake of Miguel Montero‘s departure, and while the team may think prospect Peter O’Brien is their future at the position, one year of Navarro would both give the D’Backs an upgrade now and still clear the path for O’Brien beyond 2015. The Tigers, meanwhile, look to have Alex Avila and one of Bryan Holaday or James McCann splitting time at catcher.  Avila is a question mark due to his concussion history while Navarro would certainly provide a more proven bat than Holaday or McCann.

Catching depth is thin enough around baseball that a number of teams could also be fits for Navarro’s services.  In my opinion, the White Sox and Pirates stand out as teams whose hopes of contending would be improved behind the plate by Navarro’s presence, though both clubs already have several catchers battling for those jobs.  (In Pittsburgh’s case, admittedly, their focus on catcher defense might keep Navarro off their radar.)  The Rangers could see Navarro as a more proven option than their current selection of Robinson Chirinos, Carlos Corporan, Tomas Telis and Chris Gimenez.  The Rays could platoon Navarro with the defensive specialist Rene Rivera, though the prospect of an inter-division trade and Tampa taking on a $5MM salary for a part-time player made this seem somewhat unlikely.

Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images


Tigers Have Discussed Dioner Navarro Internally

4:25pm: Whatever Detroit has done internally, it has not yet chatted with Toronto about a deal involving Navarro, Sportsnet broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets.

3:04pm: Following the news that Victor Martinez has a torn medial meniscus and will undergo surgery tomorrow that makes him highly unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports that the Tigers have had internal discussions about pursuing a trade for Dioner Navarro. According to Blair, Toronto won’t move Navarro without receiving pitching in return.

The fit is at least somewhat curious, as Martinez wasn’t expected to catch much anyhow — perhaps only in interleague series that take place in NL parks, manager Brad Ausmus told the Detroit Free Press in late January. Beyond that, Detroit and Toronto share perhaps the same Achilles Heel in the form of relief pitching. The Blue Jays have been eyeing bullpen help for the better part of a month, and the Tigers’ shaky bullpen was their downfall in last year’s ALDS. It seems unlikely that Detroit would willingly deplete its bullpen depth in order to facilitate a trade. Then again, the Blue Jays could theoretically move Navarro for minor league pitching and use the $5MM savings to increase their pursuit of a free agent such as Francisco Rodriguez or a trade target like Jonathan Papelbon, though that’s one hundred percent speculative.

Navarro, who turns 31 today, enjoyed a solid season at the plate in his first year with the Blue Jays, hitting .274/.317/.395 with 12 homers. He’s been an oft-mentioned trade candidate this winter following Toronto’s signing of Russell Martin to a five-year deal, but recent indications have been that he will open the season with Toronto. Navarro will earn $5MM in the second season of a two-year, $8MM contract in 2015.