Baltimore Orioles: Rey Navarro Signing a Good Move


Oct 15, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Ryan Flaherty (3) hits a solo home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in game four of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles have added player number 38 to their 40-man roster in the signing of minor league free agent infielder (Reynaldo) Rey Navarro, most previously of the Cincinnati Reds organization. He is age 24 and is from Puerto Rico, where he is currently playing winter ball.

Navarro was a third-round selection in 2007 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but has since been part of the Royals and Reds organizations.

He is primarily a middle infielder, having played about half of his minor league games at shortstop, about one-third at second base, with the remainder as an occasional third baseman. His defensive skills are well above average.

Navarro’s career minor league batting average (already with eight seasons at age 24) is .265 with 47 home runs; however, his average at AAA where he has played much of the past two seasons is .297.  Perhaps this is indicative of a young player who is just now putting it together?

In Roch Kubatko’s column that announces this signing, Roch makes the point that the Orioles were able to secure this player ahead of others because the offer is of a major league contract. He also adds that the Orioles are adding plus defender middle infielders, particularly short stops, due to a lack of confidence in the backup options in Norfolk.  J.J. Hardy will be the O’s short stop… to the extent that his back allows it, and we know that is an area of occasional concern.

Simply stated, the Orioles need some more depth that is immediately able to contribute in the event of a critical development, not just players with great upside potential two or more years down the road.

So where does Navarro fit in with the Baltimore Orioles? He could conceivably be an extra infielder along with Ryan Flaherty, especially if Steve Pearce is going to end up playing a lot in a corner outfield position. Additionally, there is the issue of Manny Machado’s immediate availability, along with the durability concerns about said player’s knees.

Being cast therefore alongside Flaherty (currently age 28), let’s take a look at how their numbers compare at a similar stage of life … say, from the four seasons of ages 21 to 24. (There is little life similarity before that, as from ages 17 to 20, Navarro was in the rookie and A levels of the minor leagues, while Flaherty was playing at Vanderbilt toward becoming a first-round pick of the Cubs in 2008. There is also a bit of a difference between their homes in Maine and Puerto Rico … #Geography.)

In the four professional seasons of ages 21 to 24, Flaherty hit for a combined average of .278 with 57 home runs. Navarro over that same time of life hit .267 with 37 home runs. However, it should be added that Navarro’s AAA average is .297 compared to Flaredog’s .257.  Navarro also has better OBP and speed on the bases, though he is not a major base-stealing threat.

All in all, it would comparatively look like Navarro may have the better total upside offensive potential as a well-rounded hitter, especially being a switch-hitter (with relatively equal splits), whereas Flaherty has more long-ball potential. Each is very capable in the field.

I have to say that I really like this signing and the potential it represents. Something I do not understand – and though I’ve researched it and asked around with no answers – is why the Reds did not keep Navarro. Their short stop situation is far from awesome, and without going into the names and statistics, the depth chart there does not look to me to have the possibilities that this player represents. All I can figure is that they like what they see from those they have, even if the numbers don’t support that evaluation.

One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.