Posted on August 27, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
In preparation for the stretch run in a tight division race, the Toronto Blue Jays have added a familiar face. Friday evening, the Blue Jays acquired catcher Dioner Navarro from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league pitcher Colton Turner. Navarro spent 2014 and 2015 with the Blue Jays before signing with the White Sox this past winter in search of more playing time. He gives Toronto catching depth and an extra bat coming off the bench.
Ironically, Navarro was texting with one of his former Toronto teammates when White Sox GM Rick Hahn told him about the trade. “The player was asking him if he had heard anything about them possibly going after him again. When I was explaining to him he had been traded he started typing in, ‘Yeah, I just heard something,”’ Hahn explains.
Russell Martin will continue to be Toronto’s primary catcher, but the addition of Navarro will provide the Blue Jays with more depth at that position. Toronto is currently using Josh Thole as the backup catcher, but he primarily functions as the personal catcher for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Thole is hitting just .151 on the season. Navarro acted as the personal catcher for Marco Estrada last season, although it remains to be seen if he will move into that role again.
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“We just felt like any way we could get incrementally better, we’ll look to do it, and then the added experience and time he had with this team is a benefit,” explained Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins. “He’ll fit right in with the clubhouse. And I think when we told the staff that he would be joining, they were extremely excited about not only what he meant as a catcher, but as a teammate.” Atkins added that when he spoke to Navarro, “I could see the smile through the phone.” Navarro won’t join the Blue Jays until Monday.
Navarro has had a down season with the bat, but the Blue Jays know what he brings to the table offensively. Considering the recent string of injuries the Blue Jays have endured, Navarro could give them another option at the DH spot if Toronto suffers further injuries and has to reshuffle its lineup.
Atkins is pleased with the addition of Navarro and hasn’t ruled out more moves to improve the team before the end of August. “At this point, you have to be really aggressive to get something done,” he said. “Every day we’ll look to make this team better, but there’s nothing imminent.”
The trade for Navarro is not a major addition for the Blue Jays, but it does strengthen the team’s bench and their roster overall. The fact that he played with the team the past two seasons makes it a low-risk move. The Blue Jays currently lead the Boston Red Sox by a game atop the AL East, with a two-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles. The hope for the Blue Jays is that the marginal improvement that Navarro can provide helps them to secure a division title.