The White Sox have suddenly made as many trades in August as they did at the July deadline, trading Dioner Navarro to the Blue Jays last night.
Despite Rick Hahn being coy about the offseason plan, this is an organization that has been gallingly passive in recent years. In that sense, it is a positive to see them trade away a player that is clearly not part of the future, is blocking someone worth evaluating in the present, and looking for ways to add talent–any talent–to the organization. After all, whether or not the White Sox choose to rebuild or try to actually capitalize on the good, cheap core that they have in place this winter, Navarro was expendable either way.
Colton Turner is the return coming back from Toronto. As you might imagine, it’s not exactly the biggest haul, again–this is a free addition to the organization, because the alternative is just watching Navarro leave at the end of the year for nothing. He’s a 25-year old LHP who was vaporizing both levels of A-ball (as you’d hope) and has struggled quite a bit with his promotion to AA. The best hope for him is that he’s a LOOGY eventually, but that’s still useful. The White Sox have certainly had their trouble finding someone to fill that role without spending a decent amount of money on a guy like Zach Duke.
Along those same lines, the trade syncs up with Alex Avila‘s activation from the DL. There are still a few days to make waiver trades, and one wonders if someone would be interested in giving up something for him. After all, Avila has had a better year than Navarro has. Even if the White Sox wanted to bring him back in 2016, he’s a free agent at the end of the year regardless and he’s not getting a Qualifying Offer–there’s no reason you can’t just sign him anyway.
As for Navarro himself, anecdotally he became a lightning rod for criticism, and not without reason. His bat fell apart, statistical and visual evidence that his framing was killing the pitching staff piled up quickly, and the guy he replaced was Chris Sale‘s personal catcher who was better in every way and promptly went off to have a career year in Atlanta.* While catcher is a difficult position to solve, and pitch framing metrics do not inspire as much confidence as say, OBP does, a platoon of Avila and Tyler Flowers looks like a it would have been massively preferable to what they wound up doing. And while no organization is perfect on this score,** the White Sox have been in the red on player evaluations for a while now.
*Sale’s off-the-field blowups this year didn’t come out of nowhere, as we’ve seen him confront the front office before, and anybody who has watched him give up a home run and come back throwing 99+ with zero control knows he’s….competitive. However, one wonders if the White Sox non-tendering Flowers this winter pushed him into feeling more adversarial with management.
**For example, the Astros are widely lauded as a Smart Organization that is On The Rise, but this is the same regime that drafted Mark Appel over Kris Bryant, and let J.D. Martinez, Robbie Grossman, and Jonathan Villar go actually for free or basically for free.
Well, despite all of that, Navarro gets to go play in playoff race with his teammates of the last two years, while the White Sox will continue to flush year five of Sale’s Hall of Fame Peak down the toilet without him.