After the Chicago Cubs released Miguel Montero, where will the team go? Could a familiar face be headed back to the Windy City to provide a veteran backup presence?
The Chicago Cubs need a veteran catcher and might not have to look much further than free agency. Former Cubs and White Sox backstop Dioner Navarro is currently a free agent and a reunion just makes sense for the Cubs. At just 33 years old, Navarro still has plenty left in the tank and has 13 years of big league experience under his belt.
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Navarro spent one season with the Cubs and was really good offensively. Having signed as a free agent in November 2012, Navarro spent the 2013 season with the Cubs. He slashed .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs and 34 RBI.
The Cubs need offense, but also need a solid defensive catcher. Navarro fills that requirement too. In 2013, Navarro threw out 26 percent of would-be base steals. That was just 2 percent lower than the league average.
For his career, he owns a 28 percent caught stealing right, which is on-par with the league average. His offensive has come down over the last few years, but he still provides quality at-bats and draws walks too.
Another fan-favorite player
Navarro has a reputation for being a fan-favorite player with a good attitude and a great teammate. After having spent half a season with the rivals on the South Side, Navarro was traded back to Toronto where he is beloved by Blue Jays. Most Cubs fans were sad to see him go after the 2013 season, as well. He seems like a great fit but is Navarro ready to come back to baseball?
Navarro’s wife suffered a stroke in December, and he’s been battling that since. The catcher stated that he wants to continue to play baseball, but he may want to sign with a team that allows him to be close to home.
His family situation could explain the drop in offense last year as well. Epstein knows Navarro well. His contract was only $4 million last year, so the Cubs could easily sign him to an incentive-laden deal for the second half the season.
Another big positive is Navarro has four years of playoff experience including a World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The Cubs should definitely take a flyer on him. He wouldn’t be a bad option and won’t cost the Cubs much. He seems like the perfect fit to fill the role that Montero failed to do.