Cubs Sign 1B Efren Navarro to Minor League Deal with Spring Training Invite

It appears that the Cubs’ non-roster invitee list has been bumped to 20 after signing 31-year-old Efren Navarro to a minor league deal. The deal was first reported by Baseball America’s Anthony Fenech, who offers some brief insight on Navarro as well.

A grinder who basically plays the game year-round, Navarro’s journey indicates that he’s what’s known as a AAAA player. Often used in the pejorative, the term refers to a career minor-leaguer who performs well at AAA but can’t quite put it together at the MLB level. I tell you what, though, I respect the hell out of a guy who is out there chasing his dream every day for more than a decade.

Drafted in the 50th round by the Angels in 2007, Navarro got a cup of coffee as a September call-up in 2011. Again, that’s a 50th-rounder making the Show. He didn’t make it back until 2013, when he logged only six plate appearances for Anaheim. Navarro got a bit more run the following season, seeing action in 64 games and hitting his first MLB home run, and against Justin Verlander of all people.

The UNLV product played sparingly in 2015, after which he was designated for assignment and subsequently traded to the Orioles. Thus began an odyssey that saw Navarro bounce from the O’s to the Mariners, then the Mexican League, then the Cardinals. He finally got another crack at the majors with the Tigers last season, logging 69 plate appearances and notching a .696 OPS.

Navarro’s minor league slash line of .295/.363/.410 isn’t bad at all, but his performance in the majors has been about 50-75 points lower across the board. And with only 81 career home runs in 6,399 total professional plate appearances, there’s no potential for pop to make up for the other low numbers. But as Fenech mentioned, Navarro plays solid defense and bats left-handed.

Even though the odds are very long that he lasts at major league spring training, or with the organization in general, it’s always a good idea to give a guy like this a shot in the event that he can provide some depth. He won a minor league Gold Glove in 2011, so there’s definitely value from a defensive perspective. Or maybe the Cubs are just hoping to deploy him against the White Sox when the two teams meet up this season.

After all, guys named Navarro seem to get pretty good results in the Crosstown Classic.

Back to top button