When the Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal during the offseason, rumors immediately came out that Dioner Navarro had requested to be traded away from the team.
Now, on the first day of spring training, Navarro appears to have confirmed those rumors and reaffirmed his desire to be traded.
"I asked for a trade right away (following the Martin signing), and up to today, that's still my goal," Navarro told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. "I would like to go to a place where I can play every day. I already know that I can do it.”
The 31-year-old Navarro signed a two-year deal with the Blue Jays last offseason. He spent the 2014 season as the team’s starting catcher, hitting .274/.317/.395 with 12 home runs, 69 RBI and 40 runs in 139 games while starting 102 games behind the plate.
While those are respectable offensive numbers, Navarro’s defensive stats were mediocre at best. He had three errors, seven passed balls and threw out just 21 percent of base stealers.
According to StatCorner, Navarro also ranked third-last in the major leagues when it came to pitch framing and getting his pitchers more called strikes.
With Martin offering an upgrade in both offense and defense, it’s not a surprise to see that the Blue Jays decided to pursue him in the offseason despite already having Navarro in the fold.
Navarro, of course, doesn’t really see it that way.
“I think I put myself in a really good position last year…and I don’t know where or if anything did go wrong,” he told Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi.
According to Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays have been trying to trade Navarro this offseason, per Scott MacArthur of TSN. But the team has insisted that it wants fair value back in any trade and won’t just simply give the catcher away. With Navarro being in the final year of his deal, other teams are hesitant to part with the type of players or prospects that Toronto is looking to get back.
If Navarro isn’t traded, then the Blue Jays will likely use him in a backup catcher role heading into the season. He could also see some at-bats in the designated hitter spot.
With catcher Josh Thole also likely to make the team as knuckleballer’s R.A. Dickey’s personal backstop, it’s unclear how Toronto will divide up the playing time between its three catchers.
While Navarro has been clear about his desire to be traded, he also understands that there is a chance he’ll have to stay with the Blue Jays in a part-time role. If that happens, Navarro says that he’ll do his best to help the team and hope for the best.
"I’m a pro. I’m going to do my job. I’m just going to try to put myself in the best position that I can be in, work hard throughout the whole spring and hopefully an opportunity shows up,” he told Davidi.
All stats are from Baseball-Reference.com