Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. If you’re the White Sox front office you do the latter far more often than the former. When the White Sox shockingly decided to non-tender Tyler Flowers this winter, they made it clear what they valued in a catcher. Framing was not one of those things. In the view of the front office, Flowers simply hadn’t been good at enough at the plate to justify letting him squat behind it. Instead, they went with the duo of an old, broken-down Alex Avila and long-term backup Dioner Navarro.
Dioner Navarro had most recently played for the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was well-known for his inability to frame and mostly used as a platoon bat. He had 192 plate appearances in 2015 (135 against right handed pitching), in which he hit .246/.307/.374 with just an 84 wRC+ and .129 ISO. For a catcher those numbers aren’t completely despicable, but he was mostly shielded by favorable hitting match-ups. And yet, the White Sox saw him as such an offensive upgrade over Tyler Flowers that it washed out the wide margin in framing ability. Either that or the White Sox didn’t consider framing at all in their decision. I’m not sure which is worse.
Not only did Navarro greatly lack in framing skills, hurting a White Sox pitching staff that needed as much help as it could get outside of the top two starters, but he also didn’t hit worth a lick. During his 298 plate appearances with the White Sox, Navarro hit just .210/.267/.339 with a .216 TAv, 60 wRC+, and .129 ISO. In other words, he was bad. Very, very bad.
As far as framing statistics go, the Baseball Prospectus stat CSAA is about as good as it gets. Dioner Navarro was 5th worst in that statistic this season. In fact, according to FRAA Dioner Navarro was the worst defensive catcher in all of Major League Baseball this season with a -20.4 value.
Navarro’s impotence as a hitter combined with indifference and lack of skill behind the plate made him a complete disaster of an addition for the White Sox front office. In terms of WARP, Dioner Navarro was the worst position player in all of baseball. His -2.84 was 0.93 wins worse than the next worst player, the now retired Mark Teixeira. Granted, that number is heavily swayed by FRAA’s dislike of Navarro, but even the eye test strongly suggests that Navarro was horrendous both behind the plate and with the bat.
On a team carrying Avisail Garcia, J.B. Shuck, and Jason Coats, Dioner Navarro was the worst. In a group of offseason additions that included Austin Jackson, Jimmy Rollins, and Jerry Sands, Dioner Navarro was the worst. Perhaps that comes off as hyperbole, but at a premium position where the White Sox couldn’t afford to miss, they missed big time with Dioner Navarro.
Lead Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson – USA Today Sports Images