The Tigers have exercised their club option on catcher Alex Avila for the 2015 season, the team announced. Avila will earn $5.4MM in 2015 rather than being bought out for $200K, though he still would’ve been arbitration-eligible and under team control had Detroit chosen to buy him out. Avila is represented by Excel Sports Management.
Avila broke out with an .895 OPS season in 2011 but hasn’t been nearly as productive at the plate since, posting only a .705 OPS in 1270 plate appearances in 2012-14 and hitting .218/.327/.359 over 457 PA in 2014. Injuries have played a role in Avila’s struggles, as he has battled knee and hamstring issues and (most troubling) multiple concussions. After suffering his latest concussion during the ALDS, Avila said he’d passed his medical tests and was ready to keep playing.
While Detroit now has Avila officially in place for next season, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently reported that the Tigers were listening to trade offers for the catcher. This could be due diligence on the Tigers’ part or a hint that they’re looking for an upgrade due to Avila’s injury history and lack of hitting. James McCann, a second-rounder from the 2011 draft, hit .295/.343/.427 in 460 PA at Triple-A Toledo last season and made his MLB debut for Detroit, though if the Tigers did make a move at catcher, you’d expect they would look to replace Avila with a veteran rather than entrust the position to a rookie. A platoon could also be an option, as Avila and McCann hit from opposite sides of the plate.