When the Phillies signed the 34-year-old Daniel Nava to a one-year deal, most fans didn’t get all that excited. A career utility player with a .266 average isn’t much to get up for. But Nava has guaranteed himself a spot on one of the 30 major league rosters next season.
While Nava showed in Boston that he was not an everyday player, in Philly the six-year veteran posted his best season in the majors since 2013. He had a .301 average over 80 games and 181 plate appearances.
While he did have a couple stints on the disabled list and wasn’t doing anything jawdropping, Nava also proved his versatility, making appearances at his regular left field spot while also moving around to right and first base. Not only did he play all of those positions, but he didn’t make any disastrous plays and performed admirably.
Being a solid and versatile fielder in itself is going to land a veteran like Nava a roster spot. And when you add a decent bat to that as well, Nava becomes a great fit for just about any contending team. Another good possibility is either New York squad. His experience would be nice to have around young up-and-coming stars like Michael Conforto and Aaron Judge. He would also provide a reliable back-up for injury-prone guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Yoenis Cespedes.
While Nava is neither the “make or break” player in a World Series run nor a player who can likely be used as bargaining chip to make a midseason trade to acquire assets for the future, he can give you production. The majority of teams out there could use Nava.
To put this in perspective take a look at Ben Zobrist. While he does not tend to get utilized as a pinch hitter very often, Zobrist is an extremely versatile fielder available at every position besides pitcher and catcher. With a career OPS of .783, Zobrist is making about $14.5 million a year, compared to Nava (career .737 OPS), who is making about $1.35 million. While he’s not Zobrist, Nava should be seen as a bargain value player.
Nava should draw a lot of interest from around the major leagues and should be considered a huge asset for a reasonable price. So why shouldn’t the Phillies highly consider re-signing him? Usually a player with Nava’s ability, even as a utility player and available at four positions, is not coming at the cheap price that a team could get Nava for.