The Blue Jays got a bit of terrible news for their season, with anticipated starting outfielder Michael Saunders suffering a knee injury that will sideline him the next few months. While this is awful news for the division rival, could the Rays "capitalize" from the situation?
#BlueJays say Michael Saunders tore meniscus in knee. Out to all star break— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 26, 2015
Before Topkin could tweet the idea above, friend of the site Jason Hanselman already had a full write up on the topic, targeting former Rays catcher Dioner Navarro for a return in trading surplus outfielder/clubhouse presence David DeJesus.
DeJesus is older than Saunders, but has a favorable contract ($5M for 2015, with an option at the same or a $1M buyout), and is a flexible outfielder on offense and defense. He just might be the perfect proxy:
Well, the Rays just happen to have a guy that screams "break glass in emergency." David DeJesus is coming off of a season where he was around 20% better with the stick than his peers. He can play around average in the corner, better in LF to hide his arm, and can fill in at CF in a pinch without sending you running for the hills. He hits righties. He does not hit lefties. He makes an interesting replicant for Michael Saunders and is on a contract that pays him around what he's worth. It's almost too obvious.
And just as DeJesus has been squeezed out of his natural platoon role, with John Jaso assuming left-handed DH duties and Steven Souza Jr. expected to make the leap to the majors out of the gate, Dioner Navarro is in a similar predicament.
The addition of Russell Martin and the need for Josh Thole (to catch R.A. Dickey) have relegated Navarro to shared back-up duty. If that's the role he's stuck in, Hanselman sees this as an opportunity to go grab a bat to share at DH and possibly backup Rene Rivera:
For a switch hitter Navarro has shown a pretty large split throughout his career. He's been around 7% better than the league against lefties, but around 22% worse against righties. Being able to pair him with a guy like Jaso could lead to the best DH output for the Rays since the days of Jose or Jonny or Johnny.
You're talking around 200 PA or so and you can probably get him another 200-250 in the games that he starts, so for Navarro in the last year of a two-year contract he should see more opportunity to get that next deal. More than he would have in Toronto, at least, where he is clamoring to be sent packing.
With the exact same salary as DeJesus next season ($5M), Navarro is indeed an easy swap, but whether he'd actually get playing time behind the plate is another matter. The Rays already have veteran Bobby Wilson and sophomore Curt Casali in line on the depth chart and may prefer their defense and glove to Navarro's offense.
What say you, is there a trade to be made?