The White Sox continued to reshape their catching corps on Friday, officially announcing the signing of veteran switch-hitter Dioner Navarro to a one-year, $4MM contract.
Chicago has now completed a total overhaul of its backstop situation this winter. The club signed Alex Avila to a one-year deal, non-tendered Tyler Flowers last night, and has now brought in Navarro to share time with his fellow free agent signee.
Navarro, a client of MDR Sports Management, served as the Blue Jays’ primary receiver in 2014 after signing a two-year deal. He put up a solid .274/.317/.395 slash with 12 home runs. But he lost his starting role last year when the Jays added Russell Martin. In his 192 turns at the plate in 2015, Navarro slashed .246/.307/.374, which was still good for an 88 OPS+.
On the defensive side of the ledger, Navarro was one of the league’s worst-rated pitch framers in 2014. But he’s generally rated more as a below-average framer than an awful one, and he returned to that status last year. More broadly, Defensive Runs Saved has pegged Navarro right at league average in terms of overall performance behind the plate.
It remains to be seen exactly how the South Siders will deploy this two-backstop unit, but presumably both were enticed to join the team by the promise of significant time. Avila, who hits from the left side, is much more productive against right-handed pitching, slashing .251/.348/.423 over his career with the platoon advantage. The opposite is true of Navarro, who has hit lefties to the tune of .270/.336/.439. GM Rick Hahn would surely be thrilled to get that kind of combined production from the position for a limited overall investment.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Navarro couldn’t secure more than one year? Wow.
Man. We are gonna miss dinner in Toronto. Best of luck in the windy city and thanks for a couple of solid years! Nice pickup for the Sox. Clutch bat and really an underated catcher.
I still wish the Cardinals made a deal for him the year the Cubs had him.
You shouldn’t skip meals over this man! It’ll all be ok.
Wow, this may be the first & last time I agree with a fellow Torontoian (for not being a Jays fan, that is), but yes, Navarro was one on a few Jays players I liked & for what he lacked in being one of the games best at his position, he made up in spades, by his sheer competitiveness. Wishing him the best of luck in Chi-Town.
What the Sox ought to do is plan to flip one or both near the deadline. Unless they are contending.
I’m sure same time last year the word “contending” wouldn’t be associated with the Twins, Astros and maybe even the Cubs, but the latter two made the playoffs and the Twins were contending almost all year. Never know what might happen. White Sox still need a lot of help but they have enough pieces in place to at least be competitive.
The difference between those 3 teams and the white sox = YOUNG BLUE CHIP TALENT!
What did the Twins have that the white sox dont? Specifically? Astros and Cubs I get since they have good 1-2 in their rotations, and very good hitters.
Los Calcetines Rojos
outside of the twins position players that were up and down, outside of Sano, that’s not a bad statement to make. Their SP is inferior to the sox until anyone sees berrios and meyer in extended looks.
The difference in those situations is a stable, high quality pipe line of young players. The White Sox do not have that. They need to spend money at the major league level in a big way to contend. Tyler Saladino, Mike Olt, Carlos Sanchez, and Micah Johnson are all lower than replacement level players, and they’re also really the only players currently in the White Sox system to plug into the 3b, 2b, and SS holes. Unless the sox sign Howie Kendrick, David Freese, and Ian Desmond (all, not just one) there is little reason to think they will compete. Unless something crazy happens. Like the Twins, Royals, and Indians team charters all crashing on the same night.
I don’t think Olt can be saved at this point, and Micah and Carlos don’t fill me with much hope, but Saladino shouldn’t be written off (BR has him at 1.3 WAR, btw, even with his marginal offensive contribution). He’s a fantastic defender with very good speed and the potential for a bit of pop. Dude deserves a good long look at one of the spots, because his glove is already enough of an asset that he would end up being a fairly valuable full-time player even if he’s only able ratchet up his offensive output to close to his decent-but-unspectacular minor league numbers.
I feel like he improved defensively, watching him last year. Maybe not pitch framing, but he basically worked exclusively with Buehrle. Buehrle was significantly better with Dioner behind the plate and significantly worse with Martin behind the plate. It also seemed like Dioner was better at throwing out runners this past season
Good pick up by the Sox.
He was Estrada’s personal catcher
Meant to mention Estrada too, but by the time I thought of it, I could no longer edit my post. Seems you can’t edit posts after a short length of time.
I feel like the White Sox did a good job of securing what should be an effective offensive platoon at catcher, even if they’re losing something defensively.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, this move is moot without signing a 3b, 2b, and a SS (as the answer for all of these are not currently in the organization). Getting a quality signing for all of those positions will require a lot of money or a lot of luck.
They have the winter meetings to figure out where they go next
He a good hitting catcher . Last good hitter there was name Carlton Fisk
Los Calcetines Rojos
I’d look at Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond, and Howie Kendrick as names to watch for the White Sox at the WM. Firm believer Lawrie will be traded so that is one I’ll personally be monitoring since that could be a massive upgrade to their offense.
I like the move it will improve our offense with both Avila if he stays healthy
From the standpoint of offense, at least, this appears to be a huge upgrade for the White Sox at the catcher position.
It should also be noted that the right-handed hitting Flowers offered no advantage even as a platoon option with left-handed batting Alex Avila. Flowers career splits were equally feeble, slashing .222/.280/.386 versus southpaws and .224/.292/.372 against right-handed pitchers.
With the switch-hitting Navarro having superior stats from the right side (.270/.336/.439) and the left-handed hitting Avila the same versus right-handed pitching (.251/.348/.423), this scenario should benefit the White Sox lineup significantly in 2016.
Signing two aging catchers, one who’s dealt with serious injury and the other a borderline backstop even when he was young, is going to be a rude awakening for the White Sox. Despite the frustrations of Tyler Flowers never hitting to potential, he went from being a bad defensive catcher to an above average one.
I like this move, but it’s not going to make them a world beater. This kind of move can’t really make the Sox much worse, but it hardly has the potential to add more than a win or two.
You’d have to wonder if the White Sox have other plans for catcher still and intend to use Navarro as a RH DH and 3rd catcher. He’s pretty terrible behind the plate.
Tyler Flowers turns 30 in January. Alex Avila is one year younger and Dioner Navarro is two years older. Each were signed to one year deals, giving them both an extra incentive to perform well and giving the White Sox options for a long term core replacement sooner rather than later if neither pans out.
I expected Avila to be older given his recent play and injuries. Same outcome, however.
Nararro is 32 and past his prime defensively, a prime that probably shouldn’t have involved him catching to begin with. He’s really a DH/1B at this point in his career. He’d have to have a pretty significant offensive season to overcome the difference between himself and Flowers back there. Because you’re going from a pretty good defensive catcher to a disaster behind the dish if Navarro is catching anything close to regularly.
Navarro sometimes thinks that he is better and more valuable than he is to a team… but that isn’t to say that he doesn’t have value. He’s a solid player and a good addition for the Sox.
you can’t spell dioner without diner
You’d think there would be an option year or something. We’ll be back in the same boat at the end of next year so Rick will have to go through it all again next offseason.
If Navarro does well the Sox will be competing with others to re-sign since he’ll be a FA again.
The free agent class next year is much better though. The White Sox seem like they’re biding their time until they can bid on guys like Francisco Cervelli, Matt Wieters, and Jason Castro (and Avila/Navarro if one has a good year).