Dioner Faviau Navarro Vivas
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut September 7, 2004
- Final Game September 30, 2016
- Born February 9, 1984 in Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
Dioner Navarro was signed by scout Carlos Rios for the New York Yankees in August 2000. He made his pro debut for the GCL Yankees the next summer. He made his debut for the Yankees at the end of the 2004 season, going 3 for 7 in 5 games. However, the Yankees had no room for him with Jorge Posada still in his prime, and used Navarro as trade bait, sending him to the Arizona Diamondbacks on January 11, 2005, alongside Brad Halsey and Javier Vazquez, in the trade that landed them Randy Johnson. The D-Backs then flipped Dioner to the Los Angeles Dodgers on the very same day, one of four young players given up to acquire OF Shawn Green. Navarro played 50 games for the Dodgers in 2005, hitting .273 with his first three big league homers. Jason Phillips was the starter that season and Dioner appeared in line to succeed him, but he was pushed aside by the quick development of Russell Martin who was brought up early in the 2006 season and showed within a few days of arriving that he was the team's catcher of the future. Just as had been the case in New York, Navarro became a promising young catcher unable to find playing time behind a top-notch regular, and the Dodgers decided to trade him on June 27th. He went to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays alongside Jae Weong Seo and Justin Ruggiano in return for Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall. He was hitting .280 at the time, but in less than 100 at-bats.
In Tampa Bay, Navarro finally got a chance to be a starter. He was the catcher on the only 2-6-2 triple play in major league history. It came on September 2, 2006 against the Seattle Mariners, in the 1st inning, with runners on first and third. The play developed as follows: Raul Ibanez struck out for the first out; Adrian Beltre tried to steal second, but was tagged by shortstop Ben Zobrist; Jose Lopez then tried to steal home, but was tagged by Navarro on the relay back from Zobrist. He hit .244 in 56 games with the Devil Rays that first season, then .227 in 1999 games in 2007. By 2008, he was an All-Star, when he hit .295 in 120 games while guiding the young Rays' pitching staff to a first postseason berth. he continued to hit well in the postseason, going 17 for 58 (.293), including hitting .353 in the 2008 World Series which the Rays lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. At age 24, he appeared poised to be a star for years to come, but he went trough a mid-career trough that began with his batting average falling to .218 in 2009.
Navarro lost his job as the Rays' starting catcher to John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach in 2010, when he barely hit .194 in 48 games. He became a free agent after that season and moved to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was again only a back-up, with Rod Barajas the starter in 2011. He had another poor year with the bat, hitting .193 in 64 games. By then his career was in serious crisis, in spite of his reputation as a good handler of pitchers and a solid defensive catchers, so he had to go back to AAA, playing in 2012 for the Louisville Bats of the International League. However, by hitting .319/.382/.449 in 62 games, he caught the parent Cincinnati Reds' attention and got to spend the last five weeks of the season with the big league team, where he continued to hit well. Backing up Ryan Hanigan, he hit .290 in 69 at-bats and got to start Game 4 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, going 1 for 4 for the series. It was the first sign that he was back on a positive career path.
On May 29, 2013, playing for the Chicago Cubs, he had the first three-homer game of his career in leading his team to a 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. It was in fact the first multi-homer game of his career (he had 44 single-homer games); he hit two homers as a lefty against Jordan Danks, and one as a righty off Brian Omogrosso, to become the first Cub to homer from both sides of the plate in a game since Mark Bellhorn in 2002. No Cub catcher had had a three-homer game since George Mitterwald back in 1974. Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals also hit three homers that day, making it only the 14th time in major league history that two players had collected three homers on the same day. He hit an even .300 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs in 89 games, sharing catching duties with Welington Castillo, as his career was back on track.
Navarro moved to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, being named the team's starting catcher in place of J.P. Arencibia who had been non-tendered during he off-season. On April 9th, he earned a standing ovation from the Rogers Centre crowd by stealing his first base since 2009; he is one of the slowest baserunners in all of the major leagues, and needed a large amount of surprise, plus a weak throw from Jason Castro of the Houston Astros to pull off the heist. he played a career-high 139 games with the Blue Jays, including 21 as a designated hitter, and hit .274 with 12 homers and 69 RBI, his second consecutive solid season with the bat. However, after the season, the Blue Jays signed free agent Russell Martin to a large contract, putting Navarro's future with the team in doubt. He asked the front office to trade him to a team where he could start, although when spring training started in 2015, he was still a member of the team. He played that season as Martin's back-up, hitting.246 with 5 homers and 20 home runs in 54 games. He was not really happy with the reduced playing time, especially as a third catcher, Josh Thole, also saw some action given his ability to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. However, the Blue Jays won their first division title in 20 years that season, so that made it easier for Dioner to accept his lack of playing time. He played 5 games in the postseason, going 1 for 13.
Before the 2016 season, Dioner joined the Chicago White Sox as a free agent and received more playing time. By the end of August, he had played 85 games and hit .210 with 6 homers and 32 RBIs. On August 26th, the Blue Jays reacquired him, given Thole's lack of hitting as Martin's sole back-up. They gave up minor leaguer Colton Turner in the deal. He hit .182 in 16 games for the Jays to finish the season at .2017 in 101 games, with 6 homers and 35 RBIs. He then went 2 for 2 in the postseason, both at-bats coming in the Jays' loss to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
Navarro sat out the entire 2017 season to stay by his ailing wife's side. Sherley suffered a severe stroke during the off-season that put her in a coma for a few months. Her prospects were so dire that doctors suggested she be taken off life support. Dioner refused and she eventually regained consciousness and was able to be transferred home, although as of January 2018, she was not yet walking or talking although she was able to move one of her arms. Her prognosis for a more complete recovery was poor, but Navarro was praying for another miracle and said that he had not yet given up on the possibility of taking the field again.
He is the brother of Dewis Navarro.
- AL All-Star (2008)
- Chris Cwik: "One MLB catcher sat out last season to take care of his sick wife", "Big League Stew", Yahoo Sports, January 17, 2018.