The Tampa Tribune reports today that the Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, trading partners in the Danys Baez trade this offseason, are on the verge of completing a trade that would send Rays Catcher Toby Hall and Starting Pitcher Mark Hendrickson to Los Angeles for Dodgers Catching Prospect Dioneer Navarro. The trade has not been completed yet, and there appear to be things that remain to be negotiated, including an as yet to be confirmed rumor that Jae Seo will be added to the Los Angeles side of the deal.
A deal could be finalized as soon as today.
The Rays have been interested in 22-year-old catcher Dioner Navarro since this past offseason, when the teams orchestrated a deal that sent closer Danys Baez and reliever Lance Carter to the Dodgers for pitchers Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany.
The Times made a similar report about the Rays being involved in serious multiplayer talks, however their piece was much more vauge, suggesting multiple catching prospects in multiple organizations.
Personally, I like the DRO's direction in this, they are trying to jettison a pitcher in Hendrickson at the top of his value having a fluke season, and a catcher in Hall who has been unproductive this year, and unproductive in the past so much so that it is doubtful he will ever even come close to the productive level envisioned when the Rays brought up in late 2001. However, let's look at the other side of things.
The Dodgers are in a bind where they pretty much have to get rid of one of their catchers. Navarro was unseated earlier this offseason by Russ Martin in the Dodgers organization as their starting catcher. They can't keep them both, and for a team down the stretch run, a pitcher like Hendrickson is very much a valued quantity. Is this really the best we can do?
Giving up Hall is not a major issue, but Navarro? First of all, he has been injured this season for a fair amount of time. When he was healthy, he swung a pretty decent bat with the Dodgers, hitting .280/.372/.387 in 75 ABs this season, and hit .273/.354/.375 last season in 175 ABs with the Dodgers. Now those stats show promise, especially in the pitcher's park that is Dodger Stadium.
Navarro's minor league stats history before this season can be found here, and as you can see, he was originally picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Yankees organization, and hit reasonably well for most of his tenure there. He was then traded to Arizona in '04 in the Randy Johnson deal, but didn't get an AB with that team, as he was packaged with a wealth of other players for Shawn Green, and has been a member of the Dodger organization ever since. He ranked in at No. 41 on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list in his last ranking before breaking rookie requirements in 2004, and was No. 1 in the Yankees organization that same year.
Personally, I wouldn't be against this trade. It doesn't wow me, so to speak, but it is an excellent deal to make. After all, the Dodgers do have surplus catchers and have a need for stretch run pitching, so I think we could do better, but looking at the Aubrey Huff and Joey Gathright trade situations in the past, I've learned to not reject a trade offer because you think something better will come along. Once you do that, your name is Chuck LaMar. But by pulling the trigger on this deal, the Rays get a future catcher who is only 22, has good minor league statistics, has nice tools, and plays the most demanding position, physically and mentally, in baseball.
I would've liked to have given Shawn Riggans at Durham a try, I like the guy personally, and he is putting up the stats, but the simple fact is Navarro is better. You don't reject a trade for a better player because you have an inferior player you want to try out.
As for Toby, he is honestly the most kind-hearted man on the team. He is an asset not only to the Rays organization for his leadership, but to the community for his caring soul. He sets up charities in support of people in need and especially children in nee, visits children's hospitals in the offseason, and makes sure every fan leaves happy. He is truly the nicest player on the team, and I'm pretty sure in all of baseball. I just don't know of anyone with a kinder soul than Toby. But on the field, he just was not cutting it. He was an offensive liability to the team, and had been for several years. His leadership and defensive qualities just can't overshadow that. I would love to keep Toby as a backup, but for a team with a payroll situation like we do, we just can't keep $2.1 million on the bench.
Hendrickson is having a fluke year. His walk rate and K:BB are the highest of his career, and while his ERA may make him look good, his peripherals say otherwise, and his FIP is considerably higher. He just doesn't have a future with this organization with the young pitching prospects coming up, and it is best to sell high with him while some team is fooled into believing he is a contender.
To trade those to for Navarro would be a very good move on Friedman's part, and if the Dodgers will throw in Jae Seo, ever the better, though I don't really like him as a player too much.
It will be interesting to see if this trade in consummated, and what the final product will look like, but if the deal goes through like the Tribune implies, the Rays got the great end of it.