What Dioner Navarro trade means for Blue Jays

Dioner Navarro kicks a soccer ball at Globe Life Park in Arlington at batting practice during last year's American League Division Series. (Eric Gay/AP)

TORONTO – By trading for Dioner Navarro the Toronto Blue Jays added a well-liked player who provides more offence than most backup catchers and recent experience with most of the team’s pitchers.

“I love it,” manager John Gibbons said. “He knows these guys, knows the staff.”

Eventually, the trade will require the Blue Jays to make a decision about Josh Thole’s future, but that won’t be required until Monday, after Thole catches R.A. Dickey’s start Sunday. First, Navarro has some business to take of.

“He’s got to pack up all his soccer balls,” Gibbons joked.

Navarro, a truly obsessed FC Barcelona fan who wears Lionel Messi’s jersey around nearly as often as he wears his own, will be mixed in regularly once he joins the team in Baltimore. Relatively few adjustments should be needed given that Navarro spent 2014-15 handling Toronto’s staff. He developed a particularly strong rapport with Marco Estrada, but won’t be limited to any one starter, according to Gibbons.

At the plate, Navarro has a career OPS of .766 against left-handed pitching, so he can provide value as a bench bat in September. Once rosters expand, the Blue Jays will carry three catchers, but in the meantime they could stick with two. Since Dickey won’t start for the Blue Jays against Baltimore next week, the Blue Jays don’t necessarily need Thole for that series.

“We’re not definite on what the transaction will be, but we’ve got a pretty good idea,” Gibbons said.

Thole, who’s out of options, will be needed again in September since the Blue Jays prefer not to have Russell Martin catch Dickey.

“We’ll likely have to make a move,” GM Ross Atkins told Mike Wilner and Joe Siddall on the Sportsnet Radio Network Friday night. “We’re hopeful that Josh can remain in the mix and there is a scenario where that could happen. So, if he’s still here, then Gibby will have his options. We would like to have all three of them here but just can’t guarantee that that’s going to occur.”

The Blue Jays designated Aaron Loup for assignment in a procedural move the Blue Jays made “out of necessity” to bring up a fresh arm, in this case Bo Schultz.

The move means Brett Cecil’s now Toronto’s lone left-handed reliever. With five days remaining to add players with post-season eligibility, that’s a potential weakness for the front office to consider.


Devon Travis (knuckle) and Michael Saunders (hamstring) returned to the Blue Jays’ starting lineup Saturday after missing time earlier in the week.

Travis batted eighth against Minnesota Twins starter Ervin Santana, but Gibbons plans to shift the second baseman “back up top somewhere” soon, possibly in the No. 2 spot.

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