Out since mid-March with a strained oblique muscle, Dioner Navarro has returned from the disabled list and the Dodgers made room for him on the roster by optioning A.J. Ellis to Triple-A.
That means Navarro will replace Ellis as Rod Barajas’ backup behind the plate and … well, it sure seems like the Dodgers just got a little worse at catcher.
Ellis is a 30-year-old career minor leaguer with little power, so he hardly possesses superstar potential, but he’s gotten on base at a nice .346 clip in 160 plate appearances spread over various stints with the Dodgers, has a .398 OBP in the minors, and has thrown out 27 percent of steal attempts. In other words, he’s a very nice backup catcher.
Once upon a time Navarro was a top prospect and for a brief period he was actually a productive starting catcher for the Rays, but he’s been pretty terrible for quite a while now. Navarro hit .194 with a .528 OPS in 48 games last season and .218 with a .583 OPS in 115 games two seasons ago, and is a career .249 hitter with a .309 on-base percentage and .666 OPS.
Despite seemingly being around forever Navarro is actually still just 27 years old, so he might technically have more upside than the 30-year-old Ellis at this point, but neither of them are anyone’s idea of a long-term solution and right now Ellis seems like the better bet to provide some positive value playing a couple times per week in place of Barajas.