The Boston Red Sox have absolutely no intention of trading outfielder Daniel Nava, even though they’ve had multiple offers for his services.
Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported, on Twitter, that Nava is not leaving any time soon in any trade possibility:
The 32-year-old lefty from Redwood City, California was not expected to be a starter by Boston’s brass or Red Sox Nation, but many fans were surprised that Nava would be as protected as an asset, considering the well-documented log jam in the outfield. With all of the talk, this spring training, about Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and Shane Victorino fighting for spots in center and right fields, Nava seemed very much the afterthought. Now, Castillo’s in Triple-A and Nava’s starting some games in left and right.
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Ricky Doyle of NESN reported, “It’s easy to see why the Red Sox refrained from trading Nava over the offseason despite their surplus of outfielders. He offers real value to Boston from the left side of the plate against right-handed pitchers. Nava is batting .529 (9-for-17) with seven RBIs in his last six games at Yankee Stadium.”
That statistic accounts for the four RBIs, on four hits and a walk, that Nava has in the last two games in the Bronx, helping to claim both victories against the Yankees and setting Boston up for the sweep, today.
Since 2013, Nava has hit .303 and .270 in respective seasons, demonstrating stability and consistency. His on-base percentage and slugging power took a dip, from .385/.445 to .346/.361, last season. Yet, his 37 RBIs was more than half of the previous season’s total (66), even though he had 128 fewer plate appearances. Even with the dip, he could still produce.
Apr 10, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Daniel Nava (29) during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Considering that Nava is signed through this season, his contract makes him a bargain to save on the roster. He is being paid only $1.85 million for 2015, with arbitration eligibility coming next year. The earliest that Nava can become a free agent is 2018. If anything, Nava would be very motivated to succeed, at present, so that his numbers would deserve a pay increase, later. With an aging Victorino and young talent still having to prove themselves, this is the time for Nava to cement his place as a Red Sox outfielder for the foreseeable future.
Nava’s lefty bat is not only important against righty pitchers; it is one of only a few lefty bats that the Red Sox have. On the active roster, backup catcher Sandy Leon and third baseman Pablo Sandoval are the switch-hitters, now that Victorino only hits righty, but both men are right-handed when they throw, making their power hand only used to guide and follow through on their swings from the left side of the plate. According to FanGraphs.com, Sandoval hits much better against right-handed pitchers (.305) than lefties (.266), which gives further evidence that a natural lefty would be better to have as an asset, when needed.
Utility player Brock Holt and designated hitter David Ortiz are the only other two players who hit lefty. For Ortiz, being the face of the franchise, it goes without saying that his bat will be in the lineup. However, Holt also throws with his right hand, which in itself is interesting as to how he learned to hit. He has hit .284 against lefties and .275 against righties, suggesting that Nava‘s career batting average of .294, solely against right-handed pitching, is worth more when the Red Sox face those types of pitchers.
It’s very important to have All-Star-caliber starters on your team, but it’s just as important to have the proper depth on your bench. Nava could be a decent starting outfielder on another club, yet he is a valuable piece to the Red Sox puzzle, this season. Too valuable to be used in a trade? Never say never. Until the right trade comes along, however, that completely outweighs the worth of Nava’s solid lefty bat against righty pitchers, expect him to be used frequently by Boston. If he continues producing, like in recent games, compared to some of his colleagues, you may expect him to be even starting more games, too.
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