Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Blue Jays put Navarro on block after Martin signing

'Strong interest' in catcher after bounce-back season for Toronto
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos rarely shows his hand, but even the Blue Jays' general manager must have realized there's no point in hiding that Dioner Navarro is on the trading block.

Anthopoulos was open and honest about the availability of his veteran catcher following Thursday's news conference to introduce Russell Martin. With Martin under contract for the next five years at $82 million, the Blue Jays are taking calls on their former starter.

TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos rarely shows his hand, but even the Blue Jays' general manager must have realized there's no point in hiding that Dioner Navarro is on the trading block.

Anthopoulos was open and honest about the availability of his veteran catcher following Thursday's news conference to introduce Russell Martin. With Martin under contract for the next five years at $82 million, the Blue Jays are taking calls on their former starter.

Video: Martin looking forward to playing in home country

There were reports earlier this week that Navarro asked to be traded after Toronto signed Martin, but according to Anthopoulos, the conversation never got to that point.

Hot Stove tracker

"I told him, before we would even get to that topic, I said look, 'We'll try to find a spot for you if it makes sense, but at the same time, we're not just going to give you away,'" Anthopoulos said. "We've had some pretty strong interest so far at the outset, and we'll see where it goes.

"He was great, he understands. We signed an All-Star, one of the best in the league. So from that standpoint, [Navarro] said, 'Look, I understand, I'll be ready to go in Spring Training, prepared to come to Spring Training,' and I said, 'Worst-case scenario, there will be plenty of at-bats for you and playing time.'"

Anthopoulos shouldn't have too much trouble finding a new home for Navarro, who is coming off a bounce-back season that revitalized his career. The 30-year-old appeared in a career-high 139 games, while hitting .274 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs. It was his first opportunity to be an everyday player since 2009 in Tampa Bay, and he proved more than capable in the role.

There have been some occasional concerns with Navarro's pitch selection and ability to block balls in the dirt, but nobody questions his upside with the bat. He regularly puts the ball in play, and he can occasionally hit for power at a position where that type of offensive output is usually considered a bonus.

Video: TOR@TB: Navarro blasts a two-run homer to right

The market for Navarro will become more clear in the coming weeks, but there should be plenty of interest. The White Sox are looking for someone to platoon with Tyler Flowers and the Rangers have made upgrading at catcher one of their top priorities. The Dodgers also are in the market for a catcher, but they're not believed to be interested in Navarro after his lackluster performance for the club in 2011.

Other teams that theoretically could use some help behind the plate include the Cubs -- who were runners-up in the Martin sweepstakes -- and possibly even the Pirates if they don't feel like Francisco Cervelli is the answer. Either way, Anthopoulos should have plenty of organizations willing to take his call.

"He's in a free-agent year, he wants to catch and he deserves to catch, but he also understands," Anthopoulos said of Navarro, who has one year and $5 million remaining on his contract. "We'll be open-minded to trades and things like that, the right thing for him and his career to give him a chance to catch every day. But he also understands that if a deal can't present itself, he told me, 'I'm going to be ready to go in Spring Training.'"

Even though it's all but a foregone conclusion that Navarro will be traded, there is still a small chance the Blue Jays could stick with the status quo and carry three catchers on their 25-man roster. Last month's trade of Adam Lind created a hole at designated hitter, and Navarro could receive some at-bats there while also serving as the primary backup for Martin.

The problem with that scenario is that Navarro has a plus bat for a catcher, but not for a DH. It's a lot easier to find sluggers to slot into the DH spot, and it would seem like a waste of resources to use Navarro there when he has a lot more value at another position.

That's why the Blue Jays likely will attempt to use Navarro to fill another area of need. Toronto is hoping to completely overhaul its bullpen, and there are holes in left field and either second or third base. Trading Navarro could potentially help fill one of those spots or at the very least a prospect could be acquired that could then be used to facilitate another deal.

The one thing Anthopoulos wanted to make clear on Thursday was that the signing of Martin wasn't intended to be a slight on Navarro's abilities. It just so happened that the club's No. 1 priority this offseason plays the same position.

"We were very happy with the work that Dioner Navarro did," Anthopoulos said. "We did not have any plans in the offseason to upgrade that position. This deal, for us, was all about Russ Martin and one of the only players we'd consider making a change for. He was just a perfect fit for us in so many ways.

"That's what it really came down to. If [Martin] hadn't been a free agent, we wouldn't be sitting here today, we wouldn't be talking to other free agents, we wouldn't be exploring trades. He's just a complete player in so many ways."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays, Dioner Navarro