White Sox sign Dioner Navarro

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal of unknown value with catcher Dioner Navarro, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

After the White Sox non-tendered Tyler Flowers, the addition of another catcher was not a complete surprise. Navarro will be 32 years old next season, and will likely backup behind Alex Avila, another addition to the White Sox for 2016. Navarro is no stranger to being a backup, as he played the entirety of the 2015 season behind Russell Martin.

Navarro’s season last year was below his personal average (the last three years, his batting average hasn’t been lower than .274) but still decent, as he posted a .246/.307/.374 (88 OPS+) clip with 5 home runs and 20 RBI over 192 plate appearances in 54 games.  Over the entirety of his 12-year career, the Venezuelan has hit .255/.313/.375 (86 OPS+) with 71 home runs and 332 RBI in 908 games.

This is a move that further weakens the market for catchers, with Matt Wieters taking the qualifying offer of the Baltimore Orioles, and Alex Avila already signing a one-year deal with the White Sox. It appears that if any team wants to upgrade at catcher, it’ll be via trade or by calling up a prospect.

Here’s what you need to know about the deal: The White Sox get a veteran backup catcher with a decent history.

For a more in-depth look, check out Cover Those Bases’ full story here.

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Hot Stove Update – 11/17

Here are the top stories from today’s Hot Stove action.

Tigers Acquire Francisco Rodriguez from Brewers

In a not-so-surprising deal, the Milwaukee Brewers parted ways with their closer of five seasons, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, affectionately dubbed “K-Rod”. On the other end of the deal were the Detroit Tigers, who sent a Class A Advanced infielder, Javier Betancourt.  The deal makes sense for the Tigers, who’ve struggled in the bullpen for the past few seasons, especially considering Rodriguez’s stellar 2.21 ERA in 57 innings pitched in 2015, with 38 saves. Over his fourteen-year career, Rodriguez has a 2.69 ERA with 386 saves. The Brewers are slated to get a player to be named later, and the Tigers possibly may acquire one as well, according to GM Al Avila, who told MLB.com that there’s a scenario where Detroit “could receive a second player as well”. Rodriguez will make $7.5 million next season, and has a $6 million club option for 2017.

TL;DR: The Tigers get a great closer for a relatively low price.

-There were almost serious discussions Freddie Freeman deal which sent him to the Astros

Continuing the Braves’ crazy fire sale of the past year, which has been capitalized by sending SS Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, an exclamation point could’ve been put on the sequence with a trade of the face of the franchise, 1B Freddie Freeman. The trade would’ve involved five players, and Freeman was apparently a key part of the discussion, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan. Talks fell apart, and some hypothesize it’s due to Freeman’s monstrous contract of over $100 million (an extension signed after the Braves’ 2013 season, the last one in which they won over 80 games.) Even though Freeman didn’t leave in that instance, with the current state of the Atlanta Braves and Freeman’s talent, he could easily be wearing another uniform of a team on the brink by opening day.

TL;DR: Freeman stays a Brave… for now.

The Pirates are listening to inquiries about Neil Walker

After 3B Jung-Ho Kang’s breakout rookie season, there are questions in Pittsburgh about SS Neil Walker, especially with IF/OF Josh Harrison waiting and ready, and even more questions now, as his free agency looms next winter. Naturally, the Pirates are listening to offers. According to Roch Kubato of MASN Sports, the Baltimore Orioles and the Pirates discussed a deal, but nothing came of it. Walker is an above average hitter (career .272 hitter), and posted a .269/.328/.427 (OPS+) line last season with 16 home runs and 71 RBI over 603 plate appearances. However, Roch notes that the belief is that the Pirates would be much happier to part with 3B/1B Pedro Alvarez (positions the Orioles are weak at), but would like young pitching, which the Orioles aren’t eager to give up. Walker is slated to make around $10 million next season, per Roch.

TL;DR: Mainly speculation and inquiries for now, but the Winter Meetings may send Walker to Baltimore. 

The Dodgers’ managerial search is down to two candidates

It’ll either be Gabe Kapler (already in the Dodgers front office) or Dave Roberts (San Diego Padres coach), according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The second interviews are underway and a decision will be made by Friday or Saturday.

Bud Black and Ron Roenicke will join the Angels

 Black will join the Angels in a front office role, and Roenicke will join as the third base coach. A kind of happy ending to Black’s long odyssey that took him from coast to coast.

Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel took home the Cy Young awards.

Both won 20+ games, while Keuchel (LHP) posted a 2.48 ERA and led the Houston Astros to the playoffs, and Arrieta (RHP) posted a 1.77 ERA and led the Chicago Cubs to the NLCS. There was more question in the NL as many wondered if Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers deserved the award more. Arietta won by an extremely slim margin (four votes).

Nationals sign Max Scherzer to seven-year deal

And just when you thought the Nats were done.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have signed Max Scherzer to a 7-year deal worth more than $180 million.

In 2013, the righty won the Cy Young Award with the Detroit Tigers and did not disappoint in 2014, with a 3.15 ERA over 220 innings pitched, going 18-5. While he didn’t exceed his 2013 Cy Young season, 2014 most certainly lived up to expectations.

On the Nationals, Scherzer would presumably fall into the already stacked rotation alongside the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner RoarkJordan Zimmermann and/or Doug Fister.

At the beginning of the season, there was no correlation between Scherzer and the Nationals. If he didn’t re-sign with the Tigers, suitors appeared to be the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants or Dodgers. The tides changed very quickly. Early Sunday reports told of an “increasing sense” around the league that Scherzer would be going to DC. By 12:42 AM, the deal was done.

The young Nationals are now faced with a dilemma. Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are both on contract years, and both are expected to command extensions or deals worth above $120 million. Rumors have been circulating all winter that one or two of the righties would be leaving. With Scherzer now on the payroll, there is a new element. Many think that the Nationals will trade Zimmermann, but according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the early view is that the Nationals will be keeping Zimmermann. Extension talks may or may not continue throughout the season.

Scherzer started his career as a first-round draft pick in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, scouted and drafted by current Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. He was traded to the Tigers as a part of a 2009 blockbuster involving Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson and Austin Jackson.

Over his 7-year career, Scherzer is 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA over 1239.1 innings pitched.