Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.
Navarro, 29, was an All-Star in 2008 at age 24 with the Rays, his second full season in the Majors after being involved as a piece in separate trades for Randy Johnson, Shawn Green, and Toby Hall. After such a promising start to his career, Navarro battled injuries and was a well-below average hitting catcher from 2009-2012, posting a triple-slash line of .215/.270/.323 in stints with the Rays, the Dodgers, and Reds. Navarro spent 2013 with the Cubs and had unpredictable and unprecedented success, posting career highs in all triple-slash categories (.300/.365/.492 with 13 HR in 266 PA).
Navarro’s switch-hitting ability makes him a nice fit with the Phillies. Navarro’s splits skew better hitting as a righty against lefties, getting on base by 30 points more from the right side and slugging at about 100 points higher. While Navarro likely has some upside at age 29, there are questions about his durability and ability to start for a full season, last attaining 400 or more plate appearances in a season in 2009 with the Rays.
Navarro was not among the 47 players listed by FanGraphs as a top free agent but in my estimation, he has likely earned a $2.5-3 million deal for 1-2 years.
Even with the tightest budget, the Phillies can afford to bring Navarro into the fold. The catching market is relatively top-heavy this year so Navarro may be coveted as a consolation for any teams that miss out on Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or Carlos Ruiz.
Verdict: Play, Play, Play
My highest rating, tied with outfielder Chris Young in terms of signability and affordability, the Phillies should sign Navarro for a two year deal. At age 29, Navarro may be able to be had at a discounted rate for a team willing to give him more than one year.