The Miami Marlins are interested in signing Dioner Navarro, per the latest rumors circulating, but this could turn out to be a mistake of epic proportions, or better known as John Buck proportions. In 2010, Buck had the best season of his career while with the Toronto Blue Jays. After that season, he signed a lucrative three year contract with the Marlins worth $18 million — a contract which immediately was put into question by fans and media critics alike. Sure enough, Buck never came close to matching those numbers that earned him the contract, and he was eventually traded away by Miami during a salary dump. Navarro is likewise coming off the best season of his career, and his previous track record says he’s not likely to replicate those statistics in 2014.
Navarro is a career .251/.313/.371 hitter in 10 big league seasons, which is not terrible for a catcher, but is also not the kind of statistics that are worthy of a multi-year contract worth double digits. In 2013, Navarro hit .300/.365/.492 while with the Chicago Cubs over 89 games. That number of games is a big thing to look at in addition to the unusual offense stats. Navarro has not exceeded 89 games since 2009, and it is unlikely that he could handle the workload usually expected of a No. 1 catcher. Due to the recent increase in salaries across baseball and his lofty numbers in 2013, it is a possibility that Navarro lands a three year deal worth an excess of $10 million. With the contract he may be about to sign, a team would certainly expect Navarro to be on field for over 100 games.
A name that Miami may want to consider for their catching position is Ryan Hanigan of the Cincinnati Reds. Unlike Navarro, Hanigan is coming off a down year, which could lead to him being a bargain in a trade. The Marlins would have to give up something for Hanigan, who is arbitration eligible, but Cincinnati is looking to trade him, as they have two additional catchers already under contract for 2014. For more than seven big leagues seasons, Hanigan has slashed .262/.359/.343 and has been remarkably consistent outside of this last season. He also is more durable than Navarro, having played in 115 games as recently as 2012.
It is imperative that the Marlins find a new catcher heading into 2014, because the team cannot afford to run a combination of Rob Brantly and Jeff Mathis out there again if they expect to inch closer to contention.