CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro calls this season a “rebirth” for him after struggling to stay in the major leagues as recently as a year ago. He’s had no problem doing that this time around as he’s already set a career high in home runs (12) despite getting only 200 at-bats entering play this weekend.
“I wanted to re-establish myself first,” Navarro said before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon. “I think I’ve done that. Now I want to help this team turn the page and become a winning team.”
But has Navarro played himself out of town? Signed to a one-year deal after playing sparingly for the Cincinnati Reds last season, he knows he needs to cash in on his big year. His .305 batting average and .369 on-base percentage scream for a chance at a starting job elsewhere.
“I think I’m capable of playing a little bit more,” Navarro said. “I knew when I signed here what my role would be. I’ll leave it up to God. It will work out in the end.”
It may work out for him, but his gain might be the Cubs' loss. By all accounts he and starter Welington Castillo have a great repoire, and the former has helped the latter, especially on defense.
“He gets along with me, I get along with him," Navarro said. "We’re both on the same page.”
Navarro indicated he couldn’t be happier with his current situation and that the Cubs will be the first team he listens to, but with his power numbers better than at least 25 other catchers who have more at-bats -- and an on-base percentage that ranks fifth among back-stoppers -- it would be hard to believe the free-agent-to-be won’t get some calls. He’s only 28, so there’s also a chance he’s just entering his prime.
“It is a business,” Navarro stated. “I have a family. I have to look out for what’s best for my family. I will definitely hear what the Cubs have to say. They will be No. 1 on my list.”
For now, Navarro just wants to finish strong. That will give him the options and potentially the security he desires – here or elsewhere.
“I talked to my wife before the year and we said it was the second part of my career,” he said. “It was like a rebirth for me. Hopefully it carries until I retire.”