Cubs sign catcher Dioner Navarro

Cubs sign catcher Dioner Navarro

Update: Jon Heyman tweets that the deal is worth $1.75M and that it is an MLB deal.

The Cubs have signed 28 year old catcher Dioner Navarro to a contract.  Terms are undisclosed.  Obviously it benefits the Cubs and there roster situation if this is a minor league deal, but right now that is unknown.

I'll write more as we get details but Navarro would be the veteran the Cubs have been looking to back up Welington Castillo.

I had previously defined Navarro as an excellent defensive catcher but that is probably an exaggeration.  He does have good athleticism back there and tat combined with a strong arm make him a solid backup defensively. At the plate, he has solid contact skills.  He's a switch hitter who, like Clevenger, could spell Castillo against some tough RH matchups.  He hit .327 last year as a lefty, though it was a short sample size (49 ABs).  He has been slightly better as a RH hitter in his career.

He was once a top prospect but obviously has not lived up to expectations.  Still, his catch and throw skills are a plus and he'll be an asset in a limited role, and perhaps maybe even as a mentor to the improving Castillo, making him a protypical backup.

Not sure what this means for Clevenger yet but he's likely ticketed for AAA and will serve as the 3rd catcher.


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  • Dioner Navarro and Matt Garza used to be battery mates and I remember they had some kind of shoving or brawl once... I hope those issues are well past them.

  • I hope they can sign/trade as many players as needed by the 20th

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    Supposedly its for 1.75 million. Not a bad pay day for anyone named Dioner who played less then 30 games last yr

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    If you guarantee me 1/10 of that, I'll change my name to Dioner too.

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Me too !

    I'd even change my dogs name to Dioner and deal w the confusion !

  • I absolutely protest the idea that Navarro is an excellent defensive catcher. That is a reputation his bad bat has somehow earned him. According to Klaassen's defensive rankings (which account for about everything other than framing), Navarro was one of the worst catchers in 2011:

    And having watched almost all of his games as a member of the Rays, I can say that neither the fans nor the announcers had pleasant remarks concerning his defense.

    Clevenger, it should be noted, was no defensive ace in Klaassen's 2012 rankings:

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    I always wondered why Steve Clevenger didn't get more flak for not being very good; probably his hot start.

    Quick quiz: Who has a higher OPS with the Cubs, Steve Clevenger or Koyie Hill?

    And we thought Hill was bad....he at least is a plus defensive catcher

    Clevenger will go to AAA, and be there in case someone gets hurt

  • I thought backup catcher would be the first move Epstoyer ould make so this comes as no surprise to me. I almost had the right team ( I was thinking Jose Molina..) This is a good signing. Hopefully as we see marked improvement in Beef's performance, he tells us how invaluable having Navarro on the team has been.

    More please....

  • In reply to felzz:

    I hope so. They have similar backgrounds as former infielders who had to learn the nuances of catching.

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    Bruce Levine said yesterday that the Cubs may start the season with a CF platoon of Campana/Sappelt.

    Obviously that's not a long-term plan, but can we live with that while we see if B-Jax and/or Szczur develop into a ML starter?

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I can live w it if they are planning on losing another 90+ games.

    Just be honest w us and lower the ticket prices and concessions and then nobody can cry and complain about the inferior product on the field.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Not complain? That'll be the day.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The Cubs could think about B.J. Upton.

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    And he's a switch hitter! Nice pickup.

  • Buster Heyman says it's a Major League contract. 1.75 million.

  • Not a great signing, if the $1.75 million I'm hearing is accurate. Navarro is decidedly not a good defensive catcher -- unless he radically overhauled his abilities in 2012.

    According to Matt Klaassen's 2011 defensive rankings, Navarro was one of the league's worst defenders, not considering pitch framing:

    In 2012, he only had a few games in the majors (and hit well in the minors), but he appears to be a photocopy of Clevenger, who had poor 2012 defensive numbers:

    Navarro was ranked highly as a prospect and indeed hit well in the minors not because he was a solid hitter, but because he was patient to a fault. That problem, coupled with his defensive miscues, became abundantly clear during his tenure with the Rays. Hopefully he sorted his problems out, but otherwise this is an overpay for a guy who in all likelihood could have been acquired for an MiLB deal in a month or two.

  • In reply to bwoodrum:

    Not too big on defensive metrics for catchers yet so I'm going with scouting reports on Navarro. Excellent may have been a strong word, though, so I'll amend that. As for his hitting, reports I have all are positive about his contact skills.

    Can quote this one from BA, "Navarro has a compact swing that helps him make consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. He's a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter and isn't afraid to take a walk or work deep counts. A converted infielder, he has a strong throwing arm..."

    I have to think the Cubs have similar reports to make that kind of offer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really do hope the scouting reports -- which are likely more recent than any reliable data on him -- are accurate.

    All I remember of Navarro, after watching a few hundred games with him as the Rays catcher, was (a) bad hitting and bad plate discipline, (b) former MLB players in the booth berating him for his defense, and (c) feeling sorry for him.

    Here's to 2013, Navarro!

    *drinks a shot glass of hope*

  • In reply to bwoodrum:

    Haha! I'm probably more optimistic than I should be. Always liked Navarro as a prospect so maybe I'm a little biased.

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    In reply to bwoodrum:

    Yea, I remember those days. I lived in Florida when he was the "starting" if u want to call him that for the Rays.

    He isn't afraid to take a walk. That's one thing you got right John !!

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Your opinion is welcome, but in this case I'm basing mine on the scouting info I have. It could be wrong, but he looks like a decent enough backup catcher.

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    In reply to bwoodrum:

    Great post. Thanks for the links. I feel like I learned something about the art of catching !!

  • Side note: Just read that Socolovich is going to play in Japan in 2013. (MLBTR)

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I saw that. Makes sense for him right now.

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    $1.75 million seems awful high based on his performance the last few years. He wasn't even in the majors for most of last season.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Cubs must see something they like over Clevenger. Biggest advantage he has is probably throwing arm. Clevenger had a tough time controlling running game last year.

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    Do you think they waive Clevenger to free up 40-man room?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I suppose it's possible. They need a 3rd catcher but Clevenger likely a replacement level guy anyway. Wouldn't be too hard to find a similar catcher cheap in the case of an emergency.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Did you not tell me four hours ago that the Cubs will not let Clevenger go after I listed him in my list of players that could be traded or

    We cannot fall in love with Cubs players who gave us a few good games during a two week period. I want players who can give us great games all the time.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'm only saying its possible because the Cubs have picked up a backup catcher and could try to get buy with just 2 on the roster.

    But ideally you want a 3rd catcher on your 40 man in the case of an emergency. I still think they keep him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think your right and they will keep Clevenger on the 40 man roster unless they have another move up there sleeve.

    Got to have a 3rd catcher w a rookie and guy who hasn't played much the last few years.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Misread your comment here at first. I think they're rolling with these 3. Cubs probably don't want to invest a whole lot in backup catchers at this stage of the rebuilding process.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's pretty tough to only have 2 catchers on the 40-man. You're one injury away from needing that space.

    Clevenger replacement level, but probalby stays in 40-man for now. He'll be Iowa's catcher next year.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree. Only think it's possible, but still very unlikely.

  • this is off subject but, john do you think nyjer morgan is someone on the cubs radar.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I think they like his skill set but I think they'd be wary of his antics.

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    In reply to seankl:

    I really don't have an answer but how much better do you think Nyjer Morgan is vs a Campana/Sappelt platoon like someone above alluded to?

    Is he that much better where he is worth the money and more importantly his antics?

    Even though around the league, teammates of his seem to love him.

  • How hard is going to be to add our 3 or 4 prospects to the 40-man
    roster and have a spot open for the Rule V pick?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't think it will be too difficult. There's a few candidates. Guess is Cubs will try to move guys who are more short term if possible. Hard to trade at this stage so I'm hoping Cubs already have parameters set with some team.

  • Many other teams are in the same situation. I'm sure Theo/Jed
    have something(s) in the works. Just have wait and see who does what and the rest will fall into play. .

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Exactly. Nobody eager to give up roster spots unless it's a guy they really like.

    Makes me wonder on Navarro, by the way. I can only guess the Cubs have had some positive reports on him.

  • My initial thought was that the price tag seemed high for a backup catcher who splits his time at AAA or at least has so far, but I realized that I really don't know much about the price tags of each position.

    Someone here mentioned how much 1 WAR costs, but I forget the number. Either way, is there a nice, concise place to be able to quickly project production value vs. dollars? The WAR to dollars measure would probably be a good start, but I just don't know what else is out there.

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    John. I just read this on twitter.. George Ofman: @georgeofman
    Now that Miggy has won the MVP, will the Tigers deal Rick Procello to the Cubs? Told there is a little smoke here.

    What would a package for Rick from the Cubs be? He is only 23.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I saw that too when I came home. I think he's a buy low candidate. Tigers would like to sign Sanchez and Porcello is about to get expensive for a 5th starter.

  • From what I can tell, this is more a $1.75 million investment to make Welington Castillo into a potential all-star than it is about 55 starts at catcher. Castillo's bat will be plenty ample as a starting catcher, but if Navarro can teach him the finer points of defense at catcher, he'll be a very well rounded player.

    The guy I'm surprised the Cubs didn't pounce on is Ricky Nolasco. If they took on all of his contract, he could probably be had for an organizational player. Probably wouldn't even have to eat the full salary if they sent LaHair to Miami (and also have a zero-sum outcome with the 40-man roster count).

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    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I wouldn't want to do that to LaHair :)

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Looks like Marlins aren't going to trade Nolasco, maybe feeling some pressure from MLB after that trade. But George Ofman brought up Rick Porcello again. He makes some sense. Right age, good buy low guy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Gerald Laird just signed with the ATL, so maybe the Tigers are in the market for Clevenger...

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I don't think the Cubs are looking to trade Clevenger. You need 3 catchers on your roster and he's cheap, cost controlled, and he has options. The Tigers also have Victor Martinez coming back, who can serve as their backup catcher to Avila when he's not DH'ing.

  • This is the final piece to the puzzle. We should be heavily favored now to take the division.

  • In reply to gposner:

    Yes, the only teams who win it all have rosters of 25 All-Stars.
    When will some people get it that it takes a step at a time to rebuild, a good fit here, an up-and-comer there, a veteran, new blood.....then in a little time, with the right decisions, talent, makeup, coaching, and leadership, you have a good organization.

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