Blue Jays sign veteran catcher Dioner Navarro

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – The Toronto Blue Jays have signed veteran catcher Dioner Navarro to a two-year contract reportedly worth $8 million, pending a physical.

The deal will be officially announced if Navarro hurdles the physical examination by the club’s medical staff.

The 29-year-old Navarro is expected to be the team’s everyday catcher, taking over from J.P. Arencibia, who struggled with his bat last season.

Navarro spent the past year playing in Chicago where he hit .300 while recording 13 homers and 34 RBIs in 240 at-bats for the Cubs.

He also had an impressive .365 on-base percentage with a total of 20 extra-base hits and has gained a reputation for being an above-average offensive catcher.

The signing came with risk for the Blue Jays as Navarro hasn’t played more than 89 games in a season since 2009 and has dealt with oblique and ankle injuries during the past three years.

However, the Blue Jays took the risk because of Navarro’s upside in his bat. He is a career .251 hitter with a .313 on-base percentage in 10 years at the big league level and strikes out far less than Arencibia.

Navarro’s also a switch-hitter and should provide more depth and versatility to a Blue Jays offense that underperformed in 2013.

Navarro’s signing all but guarantees that Arencibia won’t return to the Blue Jays in 2014. The 27-year-old Arencibia could be non-tendered before Monday night’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline but he could be used as trade bait.

Toronto also has veteran backup catcher Josh Thole under contract for the 2014 season at $1.5 million. Thole’s role likely remains unchanged following the club’s latest signing and he appears set to continue working as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher.

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