dioner navarro cubsOn 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.)

  • AceRemote

    I’ll never forgive Dempster for that… I know it worked out well for us but I’m still bitter.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Why would they use up a 40 man spot for Bard? As if someone is going to claim him and put him on their 40 man. In winter ball, he retired one batter in three appearances. He did manage to limit his walks to nine, hit batters to three and earned runs to seven. What was Charlie Sheen not available?
    Finally I don’t have to watch Marmol give lessons in how not to throw strikes or have any command, and now this? Maybe Bosio will be the pitcher whisperer, and he can be a big leaguer again. But don’t waste a spot, I would much rather see Gamel given a chance. Guy hit a ton in the minors.

  • josh ruiter

    Dang…he was a good one.

    • Senor Cub

      $8M for 2 yrs was not going to break the bank. I think they should have signed him for that.

  • Eric

    I like Navarro’s bat. Maybe he’ll be catching Shark again soon.

  • Dawn

    I wish him well. My son and I grew very fond of him this year, but figured he didn’t have a future as a back up catcher for the Cubs. Hope he tears it up in the AL…

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Maybe Dioner is on a recon mission scouting condos for Samardzija.

  • Jon

    Maybe the opportunity to start was huge, thus making my point moot, but I’d gladly pay Navarro 8 million to be in the catcher platoon over Kottaras.

    (cue the Navarro doesn’t get us in the playoffs comment).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not for nothing, but Kottaras has been the far better offensive player over the course of their careers, even considering Navarro’s (currently) anomalous 2013 performance.

    • Jono

      I think it was more that navarro didn’t want a back up role, rather than the cubs not wanting to pay him that amount

    • Kyle

      I wouldn’t.

      Sometimes, you pick up a scrubby guy who then has a career year. The smart play at that point is to cut him loose. i’m looking at you, too, Donnie Murphy.

      • hansman

        and Nate Schierholtz

        • Blackhawks1963

          Nate Schierholz is currently the third most vital bat to the Cub offense for 2014. He’s a good ballplayer, albeit somebody who should not be the third most vital bat and also somebody who should be platooned.

          I like Nate. He plays the game the right way, has a decent bat and is a very good right fielder. He is far, far, far from the biggest issue facing the 2014 Chicago Cubs.

          • TWC

            “He plays the game the right way…”

            The right way to play the game is to hit for mediocre average while sporting a terrible OBP but with just enough slugging to eke his way into a league-average OPS+? The right way to play the game is to have a 19% K rate and a 6% BB rate? The right way to play the game is to be mediocre defender in RF?

            Or is “the right way” to pay the game just an empty bunch of words strung together?

            • ssckelley

              Damn you, you must type faster than I! 😀

          • ssckelley

            What do you mean by “He plays the game the right way”? Is there a wrong way to play the game? I have not seen him step into the batters box swinging with the barrel end of the bat or anything.

            • Jon

              He wears his emotions on his sleeve.

              • ssckelley

                Perhaps he wears one of these under his uni:


            • hansman

              Maybe blackhawks only watched Schierholtz’s at bats through a mirror. That’d look like he was playing the game the wrong way.

              • ssckelley

                I am sure glad my coffee was gone before reading that.

  • Jono

    Random and obvious thought of the day:

    It’s been longer since 2008 (current playoff drought) than 2007 was from 2003 (the last playoff drought)

    Again, random and obvious, I know.

    • Kyle

      And the drought before that (1998 to 2003)

      I think we may yet challenge 1989 to 1998. But god help us if 1945-1984 comes into view.

      • Jono

        that same drought length would bring us to 2047. I’ll be 63 years old. Damn it, Kyle. This is not the way I want to start the week.

      • YourResidentJag

        So, you’re getting the feeling like me that this could be the 1990s all over again?

        • Kyle

          I think we’ll have better teams than the 1990s eventually, but it may not lead to playoff berths.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    He won’t get a shoeshine in Toronto like he did in Rizzo land. Guy plays the game with a great attitude, gonna miss watching him.

  • Jay

    Career year with the bat doesn’t change the fact that he was a butcher behind the plate.

  • Gcheezpuff

    How often did he catch Shark? Probably not related, but maybe.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I wish Navarro well. He’s a good catcher and a good professional. Now he gets a chance to start again in Toronto. The Cubs lose something behind the plate, but Navarro wasn’t going to unseat Castillo as the primary catcher. I think Kottaras is a pile o’ crap, but I need to remind myself that he’s here to be a backup catcher. Albeit a backup catcher who can’t throw and who hits like Koyie Hill. Oh well.

  • AceRemote

    Kottaras is at least better than Paul Bako.– couldn’t stand that guy.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Is he? I’m not sure why some of you are excited about Kottaras. He’s actually pretty darn bad. A backup catcher who can’t throw is NEVER a good thing. A backup catcher who will struggle to hit .200 in combination with being dubious behind the plate is a always an awful thing. Who cares if the guy can take a walk….seriously. What are we going to say come July when Kottaras is batting .135 and has allowed 19 out of 20 base runners to steal?!? The 4 walks he will have will hardly justify his existence.

      • Kyle

        Why do you think he will struggle to hit .200?

        • Blackhawks1963

          Kottaras can’t hit his way out of a paper bag. To me, the primacy of a backup catcher is to be superior defensively behind the plate. Any hitting you get out of a backup catcher is a bonus.

          But I take a look at Kottaras and see a guy who literally cannot throw out baserunners. And who is a slap hitter on futility par with Koyie Hill. So what’s he here to do ?!? Have a nice hollow OBP total ?!?

          I sure HOPE TheoJed are still canvassing the market for a decent catching alternative to Castillo. Especially since I’m not sold on Castillo, especially if he’s expected to catch 130 plus games.

          • bbmoney

            Kotteras Career WRC+: 98. Career ISO: .192
            Koyie Hill: 40, .81
            Navarro: 83, .120

            Come on now.

            • Jon

              You might as well post some numbers in Japanese, BH1963 is old school dude, he doesn’t care about that fancy smancy numbers, what’s his batting average and TWTW?

            • ssckelley

              Maybe he does not “play the game the right way”. Although I am still waiting for BH to explain that.

              • cubfanincardinalland

                No lollygagging allowed.

              • Funn Dave

                You’ll be waiting for a while. Blackhawk never answers questions when he doesn’t have a good answer.

                • ssckelley

                  True, and that is why he has not answered me below about Suzuki. We cannot let statistical facts get in the way of going after players who “plays the game the right way”.

          • Kyle

            You didn’t answer the question, you just doubled down on your insistence. Only I’m allowed to do that.

          • hansman

            The dude was on pace to hit 25 home runs in a full season last year. “Light hitting” and “slap hitting” are not something I would describe him as.

            If Kottaras and Castillo just play to their career averages next year, the Cubs will have a very good catching duo.

      • Jon

        You have to stop with soley using batting average and RBI’s in your arguments.

      • hansman

        “A backup catcher who will struggle to hit .200”

        and yet he still provides league average offense.

      • bbmoney

        I care if he can take a walk. I care about any and all ways Cubs can get through PAs without making outs.

        I’m not exactly excited about him, but he’s a fine backup catcher…..same as Navarro.

        • YourResidentJag

          Actually, he’s probably better as a LH pinch hitter. Back-up C not so much.

  • Cheryl

    It’s sure taking a long time to trade the Shark. It seems pretty clear he wants to try free agency in two years rather than get an extension with the cubs. He may even feel he doesn’t want to go through two more years of rebuilding but when and where will he end up?

    • YourResidentJag

      I see Toronto if the Cubs would take Stroman as the centerpiece of the trade.

  • Jon

    “Kottaras can’t hit his way out of a paper bag. ”

    The good news is he can walk out of it.

    • Blackhawks1963

      The good news? Really? A backup catcher who can’t throw but will WOW US with his walk total ?!? So the strategy is to duct tape his bat to this shoulder and hope for the best when he is batting in the eighth hole in the linuep? Meanwhile, every game he starts behind the plate we are pretty much assured the opposition will run wild on the basepads.

      Kottaras is a Triple A catcher and an emergency call-up type. Nothing more. We need better at backup catcher.

      • Voice of Reason

        We have our back up catcher for 2014. They are not bringing in Suzuki.

        • Blackhawks1963

          I reluctantly agree. And am not happy about it. Yes, I have concerns for Castillo so yes I think about the need for a solid secondary catcher more than would be normal. Kottaras ain’t it.

      • Norm

        Yes, 25 stolen bases in 260+ innings. So the opposition will run wild at a ‘once per game’ average.
        And slap hitter? You need to look past the batting average.

      • ssckelley

        Omg BH, you are right, Kottaras taking a walk in front of the pitcher is HORRIBLE. That means the Pitcher lays down a bunt to get him into scoring position or does not lead off the next inning. Or imagine how horrible it would be if Kottaras hit a home run, clearing the bases, in front of the pitcher. Which is something he did 5 times the past season in only 100 at bats.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I would like to see the Cubs acquire Kurt Suzuki to be honest. He’d be a solid complement to Castillo in something like a 60-40 type job split. Kottaras can be Triple A insurance policy against injury.

    • DarthHater

      Doesn’t Kottaras have enough major league service time that he would have to clear waivers before being stashed at AAA?

    • Rebuilding

      Kurt Suzuki? He’s a worse offensive player than Kottaras, has declined every year defensively and is right-handed so he doesn’t bring a platoon advantage. Not to mention he’s going to make way more money than he should

    • ssckelley

      You do realize that Kottaras threw out 1 more base runner than Suzuki did last season in 31 less chances? Also the same amount of home runs in almost 1/3rd of the plate appearances. As others have said looking strictly at batting average and RBI’s is a silly way to judge performance.

  • AceRemote

    You hate him because he’s Canadian, don’t you?

  • Aaron

    Dioner Navarro was fun to watch when he came up to the plate. Of all players on the team, he was the one I wanted to see at the plate with the game on the line. I didn’t see that from too many of other players on this year’s team. Good for him to cash in on his fine season with the Cubs. Too bad we won’t receive any compensation for his leaving for the Blue Jays.

  • North Side Irish

    Dan Szymborski ‏@DSzymborski 1m
    Darnell McDonald signed minor-league deal with Cubs. Kinda strange, but in fact, he’s now outlasted all but 4 of other ’97 first-rounders.

    • ssckelley

      I just don’t get what the Cubs see in this guy. If this is who the Cubs are going to bring in to compete with Vitters for the right handed outfield position then I am going to be sick.

      • wvcubsfan

        minor league depth, someone to call up in an emergency if no one else is ready?

  • YourResidentJag

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 11m
    #mariners are close to a deal with willie bloomquist

  • Chad

    I am actually pretty upset the Kung Fu Cub won’t be a Cub anymore. Went to an early season Giants game last year and Navarro blasted one to win the game. Ever since I referred to him as the Kung Fu Cub. Guy definitely had some pop.