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.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.