Dioner Navarro Looks Like a Solid Piece to Bring Back in 2014 and Other Bullets

dioner navarro cubsThis week’s $300 fantasy contest runs on Friday, and you can/should sign up todayFull details here. It’s free and fun, for reals.

These are your non-David DeJesus Bullets, as there will be plenty to say about that trade today.

  • Don’t be surprised to see Dioner Navarro promptly re-signed this Winter. Not only has he produced at the plate this year, but yet another Cubs pitcher is signing his praises. “Navarro is unbelievable,” Jeff Samardzija said after last night’s win, per ESPN. “What he does behind the plate, his presence is outstanding. He has a plan as to what he wants to do and that takes a load off of me and my mind. We were on the same page all day. He would take a second to let me relax before executing the next pitch.” Defensively, Navarro hasn’t always looked good behind the plate this year, but if he can hit 90% as well as he has, and can put the pitchers in a position to succeed, I’d be plenty happy to have him back splitting time with Welington Castillo next year. Navarro is currently hitting 291/.366/.527, easily the best line of anyone who has been playing regularly since the start of the season.
  • The lack of catching depth in the upper minors for the Cubs (or lower minors, for that matter) will probably play a significant role in how heavily they prioritize bringing Navarro back. He’s making just $1.75 million this year, and will almost certainly get a healthy raise. As a free agent, the only question is whether he’ll be able to find something more akin to a starting job out there. He’ll be 30 next year, so it’s not as if he’s old.
  • Anthony Rizzo missed last night’s game with an illness, and Dale Sveum mentioned a migraine headache. Hopefully it was a one-off kind of thing, and Rizzo comes back soon.
  • Jed Hoyer still has high hopes for Starlin Castro, despite his poor performance this year. “There’s no reason in the world to think he can’t get back to the way he played as a 21-year-old,” Hoyer told Patrick Mooney. “We have to get to the bottom [of it] as a staff, why he’s hasn’t had as good a year, how we can get him better. Isolating him and focusing on him as a negative doesn’t help that. This is a guy that – when he’s right – is one of the more talented players in the game.” You’d like to see Castro hit well over the final month and a half, entering into the offseason on the upswing.
  • Patrick Mooney on Bryce Harper, and Bryce Harper on Cubs top 2013 draft pick Kris Bryant.
  • Bruce Levine on the cross-section of media and player performance.
  • All Kris Bryant did in his first week in the Florida State League was notch nine hits in 25 at bats with three homers, and win the league’s Player of the Week honors in the process. Overall, Bryant is hitting .344/.391/.688 in his first professional season over 110 plate appearances.
  • Don’t forget: Social Media Night at the Cubs game tomorrow. Be there. And then Thursday’s game against the Nationals (Strasburg!), be there in the right field bleachers. After the game, we can grab drinks and food at Casey Moran’s. Come hang out.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

41 responses to “Dioner Navarro Looks Like a Solid Piece to Bring Back in 2014 and Other Bullets”

  1. Swence32

    Bringing Navarro back would be great. Castillo hasn’t been terrible this season, but his power hasn’t developed as it should have (.091 ISO). Are there any worries about Navarro’s durability, or could he possibly become an everyday catcher if Castillo doesn’t show much improvement next season?

    1. Chad

      Hmmm, I thought Castillo has been one of the brighter stories this year. He has been decent offensively and is turning into a pretty good defensive catcher and game caller, which was his big knock. I don’t get too worried about the power from the catcher position. .271/.350/.361 and an OPS of .717 from our catcher is nothing to scoff at IMO.

      1. willis

        Yeah I think the catcher production has been a huge bright spot for the team this year. Would love if both of them were back next season.

  2. Eric

    Hard not to get excited by Byrant’s line. I’d love to see him make it to Iowa sometime next year.

  3. FastBall

    I like Navarro as our Hank White for a few more seasons. Like Bretty says, there is nobody in the organization for at least 2 years that he could be blocking. I say sign him up.

    1. DReese

      Bretty?

  4. Werner

    Thanks for sharing the piece on Harper. Bryant is 10 months older. Harper is a freak.

    1. Jon

      He’s a nice young player. But “freak” is what you would call Mike Trout.

      1. Werner

        I agree with that. Wonder if in the next couple of years Harper will have a dead season like Castro’s.

        1. Jim

          I think Castro’s issue has been over coaching. He came up very similar to how Junior Lake is now. Very aggressive and line drives up the middle were his forte’. But over the course of the first couple of years he was preached to about patience and taking pitches. Now he seems to take the first pitch which is usually a strike and then has to swing at the Pitcher’s pitches. He rarely goes up the middle or to the right side any more. Most of it is just rolled over pulling. I think JD said it right when he says you just have to see how a kid is at the plate and that will determine where he hits in the lineup. Don’t try to change players into a player they are not.

          1. Jon

            I don’t think letting Castro stick to being a “hacker” was a good option either. He refused to take a walk and didn’t hit for a ton of power. Eventually MLB pitchers were going to figure that out. Lake will be exposed very soon too.

            1. Kevin

              Put Castro on waivers.

            2. cub2014

              Lake has already been exposed and has still
              managed to hit. If he continues to layoff breaking
              balls that arent strikes he will be OK

              1. gocatsgo2003

                1) Lake still only has 132 PAs in the Bigs. The book on him is definitely still being written.

                2) “If he continues to lay off breaking that aren’t strikes he will be OK” So… hitting?

                1. cub2014

                  On Lake, true the book is still being written.
                  He has been exposed though. Balls moving down
                  and in he cant handle or layoff YET. Curveballs
                  away he does a good job of laying off those lately.
                  What drives me crazy is when he gets ahead in the count
                  he swings out of his shoes. If he would layoff some
                  off those pitches his walk totals would jump dramatically.
                  Alas easier said than done.

            3. Jim

              I had no problem with him being a “hacker” when he was producing around 200 hits per season. Not everybody in the lineup has hit for power.

      2. EQ76

        or Javon Kearse

  5. FastBall

    I would bet Bryant blows through AA in about 60 days next season. He will be in Iowa about the same amount of time. He doesn’t need to sit in the low minors. He has played a lot of college ball which should elevate him well past even High A which he is already demonstrating is not up to his level. Let him play for about a month this winter and then set him down for a while. He needs a break before next ST. Then next year its fast forward for him.

    I think Soler should take the same path maybe even play AZ Fall Ball.

    I also believe that Vitters will move over to 1st base next year. His niche spot just might be as back up 1st baseman and 5th corner OF’r next season. Rizzo hasn’t quite caught on to hitting lefties so Vitters would be okay at 1B every once in a while. I know Vitters hasn’t played at all except a few games this season. But we send him back to Winterball and if he hits some we have to give him a look starting next season. He needs to find his way otherwise we need to package him, BJax and a few other minor leaguers in a deal for good bullpen pitchers. Cubs need to load up on quaility BP pitchers this off season. Neither of these guys has much value if any. Both missed out on 2013 because of injuries but there creeping up the age scale for not having any production to get fired up about. Actually this is what happens to most prospects. The flame starts getting smaller and smaller until it goes out. Then they are gone and we get nothing for them. Not just us but every franchise in baseball has these types all the time.

    1. ssckelley

      You make some good points. But hopefully Vitters can prove he can play left field along with 1st base and can show he can handle MLB pitching. His injuries come at a horrible time as Vitters chances are starting to run out, at least as a Cub.

    2. On The Farm

      I also like your thoughts on Vitters and complimenting him with Rizzo against lefties. As for packaging them together, I don’t see that happening considering they are already low on options so they will have to hang out on an MLB roster. Also it seems like we have quite a few interesting minor league bullpen arms (Cabrera, Coleman to name a few). As far as bullpen goes I would rather generate those arms from within, and I just don’t think you would get any MLB arms of value for Jackson at this point.

      1. C. Steadman

        talkin about bullpen..I would like to see local boy Tony Zych in the majors at some point..if not break ST with the Cubs (kinda a stretch there)

  6. FastBall

    Okay…. That was a TYPO

  7. FastBall

    God that sounds like Dale Sveum dreamt up that nickname

    1. On The Farm

      We could make up our own BN song, I can hear it now…

      Whoa, black Bretty (bam-A-lam)
      Whoa, black Bretty (bam-A-lam)
      Black Bretty had a cat (bam-A-lam)
      The damn thing gone wild (bam-A-lam)

      I am thinking there is your new intro for the podcast

      1. frank

        Wearing its pajamas (bam-A-lam)

  8. FastBall

    Okay if this if this Bretty thing takes off I want royalties. I will gladly split them with On The Farm since he came up with the Black Bretty thing. I should quickly Trademark Bretty :)

  9. Jay

    Nice to say good things about how Navarro calls a game and sure he’s got some pop in the bat, but he’s got stone hands, couldn’t block a ball in the dirt if it was rolled to him, and my 75 year old mother could steal second base on him. Beef Wellington needs to play at least five days a week.

  10. MightyBear

    The Nationals waived DeJesus. Brett please help as to what is going on here.

    1. MightyBear

      Got it. Thanks.

  11. Rich H

    Am I the only one that thinks Castro has a physical problem he is playing through?
    The reason I think this is the plane of his swing is a lot different than it was last year. I noticed it more when I actually was able to see him in person than on TV but his swing now has an angle to it when it did not matter where the ball was before the swing was always level.

    1. Justin

      Yeah, I am not sure it’s all mental with Castro either. He has always seemed very off balance. I will say Castro’s bat speed looks quite a bit slower this yr. Bat speed slowing down can be caused by a variety of things, but seems pretty weird for a young guy just growing into his body who should be getting stronger. Unless he’s doing/taking something different.

  12. BigPappa

    I’d like to see them turn Castro loose for the rest of the season. I know they’ve tried to develop patience in him and get him to only swing at good pitches, but it’s not working. I’m not sure if he can do what they are asking of him or not. He was a great bad ball hitter and taking away his aggressiveness seems to have neutered him.

  13. Johnny B Good

    Navarro might getting a starting opportunity next yr on another team. Someone is probably going to give him better contract then were willing to offer. You don’t overpay for backup catchers. If he’ll take a 1yr deal at moderate and fair price then ya sure but I think he may get a surprisingly pretty good offer from another this offseason

    1. baseballet

      I agree. Navarro has the highest OPS of any catcher in the major leagues! I guess he’s not confused by all the hitting instruction from Cubs coaches.

      Toronto, Mets and KC have starting catchers with the lowest OPS, so maybe one of them would want to give Navarro a chance.

  14. jkppkj

    Frankly surprised to learn that Navarro has value as a receiver, not just as a fat kid who’s willing to put the tools of ignorance on. I’m not sold on him continuing to hit and would hate to see the Cubs overpay for him.

  15. Jon

    If he could qualify, Navarro would lead all mlb catchers in wOBA.

  16. Johnny B Good

    Castro being Castro again. I wish JD and Len would critize players like Brenly did. That run doesn’t score if he makes that play.

  17. Saving Grace

    I think bryce harper would like to be on this future world series champ cubs team.

    1. Johnny B Good

      The Nationals are going to eventually lock Harper up. No way he reaches Free agency

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