Dodgers Cutting Ties With Dioner Navarro?

MILWAUKEE, WI: Dioner Navarro #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is attended to by a trainer after being injured against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on August 15, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

In other news, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a new backup catcher:

The Dodgers have designated Dioner Navarro for assignment and recalled A.J. Ellis from Triple-A @abqtopes

 

This is worth mentioning because it wasn't all that long ago that Navarro was regarded as one of baseball's best prospects. Prior to the 2004 season, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 41 prospect in the game, and the Yankees' No. 1 prospect. John Sickels gave Navarro a B+ grade ... but wrote this:

If Navarro has a normal growth curve, he'll be a starting major league catcher, without question. The problem is that a lot of young catchers DON'T have a normal growth curve, stalling out around age 22 or 23, then deteriorating well before their time. So understand that Navarro is an excellent prospect, but that catching prospects carry higher risks than other position players.

Indeed. Navarro was coming off a 2003 season in which he'd advanced to Class AA and batted .341 with doubles power while still only 19. But he'd never hit that well before, and hasn't since. Which now makes his 2003 look like something of a mirage. After a 2004 in which Navarro struggled some in both double- and triple-A, the Yankees traded him to the Diamondbacks in a package for Randy Johnson; the Diamondbacks immediately traded Navarro to the Dodgers in a package for Shawn Green.

Navarro was the prize in that deal, and he wound up playing decently for the Dodgers before they traded him, in the middle of 2006, to the Devil Rays. And in 2008, the Rays' magical first-place season, Navarro played a big role and actually got four at-bats in the All-Star Game (which went 15 innings).

Of course, that's as good as it got for Navarro. In the three seasons since, he's got a .207 batting average and this season fell behind Rod Barajas on the Dodgers' depth chart. Now he's not on the depth chart at all. He seems to have deteriorated well before his time.

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