Author: Bill Baer

Dioner Navarro
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Dioner Navarro open to returning to the Blue Jays


Soon-to-be free agent catcher Dioner Navarro is open to returning to the Blue Jays for the 2016 season, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. He was with the Jays on a two-year, $8 million deal signed in December 2013.

During the regular season, Navarro batted .246/.307/.374 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 192 plate appearances. In the playoffs, Navarro had only one hit (a double) in 14 plate appearances.

Navarro turns 32 years old in February. If he were to return to the Jays, he would back up Russell Martin behind the plate.

Alex Rios turned down a two-year deal to play for the Royals

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports noted yesterday that outfielder Alex Rios turned down a two-year deal from the Mariners during the past off-season because he wanted to play for the Royals, who offered him only one guaranteed year plus a mutual option for the 2016 season worth $12.5 million. He inked the deal back in December.

It turned out to be a solid decision on the part of Rios, as the Mariners failed to reach the playoffs while the Royals are headed back to the World Series for a second consecutive year.

Rios, 34, posted a disappointing .640 OPS during the regular season but has hit .333 in 33 at-bats in the post-season. The 12-year veteran hadn’t played in the post-season until this year.

Given how Rios performed over a large regular season sample, one wonders if the Royals might prefer to buy out his contract at $1.5 million rather than bring him back for his age-35 season for $12.5 million.

Alcides Escobar named MVP of the ALCS

Alcides Escobar, Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has been named MVP of the American League Championship Series, which the Royals won in six games over the Blue Jays.

Though Escobar went 1-for-4 with a single in Game 6, he had 10 hits — including two doubles and a triple — with five RBI and six runs scored in 23 trips to the plate in the first five games of the ALCS. He hit safely in all six games, ending with a .478 average.

In his biggest game, Escobar managed to rack up four hits, including a triple, while scoring three times as the Royals lost Game 3 by an 11-8 score to the Blue Jays.

During the regular season, Escobar hit .257/.293/.320 with 28 extra-base hits in 662 plate appearances.

Lorenzo Cain earned ALCS MVP honors for the Royals last year, when they eliminated the Orioles in four games.

Video: Wade Davis gets the final out, sending the Royals back to the World Series

Wade Davis
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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Friday wasn’t an easy night for Royals closer Wade Davis. He had to clean up a mess left by Ryan Madson in the eighth inning, as Madson served up a game-tying two-run home run to Jose Bautista then walked Edwin Encarnacion before exiting. Davis got Chris Colabello to pop up, then struck out Troy Tulowitzki to escape the inning.

The rain began to fall at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, sending the game into a rain delay lasting approximately 45 minutes. Manager Ned Yost sent his closer back out after the Royals took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth. Davis allowed a leadoff single to Russell Martin. Pinch-runner Dalton Pompey then stole second and third base ahead of a Kevin Pillar walk. Davis struck out pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro, though Pillar stole second in the process. He fanned Ben Revere, then induced a game-ending ground out to third base from American League MVP Award candidate Josh Donaldson to send the Royals back to the World Series.

Video: Lorenzo Cain’s speed helps Royals take late lead in ALCS clincher

Lorenzo Cain
AP Photo/Jim Mone

With ALCS Game 6 tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning and both teams coming out of a rain delay lasting roughly 45 minutes, Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain kickstarted a rally when he drew a walk against Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna.

First baseman Eric Hosmer then ripped a single down the right field line, which right fielder Jose Bautista adroitly corralled. Bautista, however, wheeled and fired a high-arcing throw towards second base. Upon seeing that, Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele waved Cain home. Cain scored easily to break the tie, putting the Royals up 3-3.

Bautista didn’t exactly make a poor play. His effort limits the runner to a single every time, and most runners aren’t quick enough to score on that kind of a play, nor are most third base coaches willing to take such a big risk in such an important situation as Jirschele was. It was a situation when one great strategy went up against another great strategy. The Royals happened to win that battle.

Closer Wade Davis got into some trouble in the top of the ninth, but saw his way out of it with back-to-back strikeouts and a game-ending ground out to send the Royals back to the World Series. They’ll play the Mets for all the marbles, with Game 1 starting on Tuesday.