On the heels of a breakout year with the bat, Dioner Navarro wasn’t coming back to the Chicago Cubs as a back-up. He was either going to get a starting job somewhere, or was going to be paid too much money. That is simply a reality I accepted back in October. And with the Cubs’ acquisition of George Kottaras, it became even more certain.
Today, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agreed to terms with Navarro on a two-year, $8 million deal. In Toronto, Navarro could be a borderline starter for the Blue Jays, with Josh Thole catching R.A. Dickey and J.P. Arencibia potentially moved out (as soon as today, considering the tender deadline). It’s a great situation for Navarro, offering him more money and more at bats than he would have found returning to the Cubs. Good for him.
I’ll remember Navarro’s year with the Cubs fondly, from the moment he signed (and I foolishly questioned whether the front office had overpaid for a light-hitting back-up), to his huge three-homer game.
The only part of the Navarro story that fills me with some regret is that the Cubs couldn’t extract some value for him at the Trade Deadline. There were rumors right up until the zero hour, but, ultimately, nothing happened. Now, he walks away for nothing.
That said, he wasn’t going to net much more than a C prospect, and you have to remember how (good) trade negotiations go. The Cubs presumably set a price on Navarro, and held firm. If they bent at the last minute and shuffled him away for nothing at all (it wouldn’t have even saved much money), then they would have set the precedent for future discussions that they’ll eventually cave if you press them hard enough for long enough. On lower-value pieces like Navarro*, you hold the line. If nothing else, it sends the right message for future dealings.
*(This is to be contrasted with the Ryan Dempster trade, where the Cubs very clearly did bend at the last minute to salvage whatever value they could. That was a pretty unique situation, thanks to Dempster’s no trade rights, and his value even then was sufficiently high that you can’t pass on making the deal just to remain “firm” in the eyes of the other front offices.)