The Diamondbacks and catcher Alex Avila “appear” to have mutual interest in working out a new contract, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reports within an excellently laid out look at the team’s upcoming 40-man roster decisions and Rule 5 protection candidates (subscription required). The veteran catcher is slated to become a free agent this winter.
Avila, 33 in January, has spent the past two seasons in Arizona after signing a two-year, $8.25MM deal in the 2017-18 offseason. He’s been surpassed on the depth chart by standout young catcher Carson Kelly, but Avila’s patient eye and left-handed bat would make him a reasonable complement and veteran mentor to the up-and-coming 25-year-old.
Avila’s first season with the D-backs was a disaster, as he posted a miserable .165/.299/.304 batting line with an eye-popping 38.5 percent strikeout rate in 234 plate appearances. However, while he still posted an ugly batting average in 2019, he put the ball in play more often, drew more walks and showed more power. The resulting .207/.353/.421 slash (in 204 plate appearances) was one of the game’s more unusual lines but came out to roughly league-average overall output, per both OPS+ (100) and wRC+ (97).
Among the 360 players with at least 200 plate appearances in 2019, Avila’s gaudy 17.9 percent walk rate ranked third, trailing only Mike Trout and Brandon Nimmo. Strikeouts were still an issue, as Avila’s 33.4 percent rate was the 12th-highest in that same subset of hitters. Lack of balls in play notwithstanding, it seems that his power, on-base skills and defensive abilities are traits the Arizona front office hopes to retain. Avila has posted average or better framing marks in both seasons with the D-backs, and after throwing out a solid 30 percent of would-be base thieves in 2018, he nabbed 11 of the 21 men who tried to steal against him in 2019 (52 percent). Baseball Prospectus also rates his ability to block pitches quite favorably.
The Diamondbacks do have Caleb Joseph currently on the 40-man roster as a potential backup to Kelly, should a new deal with Avila ultimately fail to reach fruition for one reason or another. With a projected arbitration salary of $1.2MM (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), though, Joseph isn’t certain to be tendered a contract. Cutting ties with Joseph would only further create a need to bring in a veteran backstop — be it Avila or someone else — but Joseph batted just .211/.250/.263 in 41 plate appearances with the Snakes while batting .265/.324/.481 with Triple-A Reno. It’s also possible that the D-backs try to keep all three players, as Arizona has frequently carried three catchers under GM Mike Hazen. The addition of a 26th Major League roster spot for all 30 MLB teams next winter will only make it easier to do so, should the Diamondbacks wish to continue with that approach.
There’s mutual interest between my wife and my neighbour
That’s not just your neighbor that’s the entire city
Bochys Retirement Fund
Sometimes jokes are good just the way they are.
I’m sorry if you were offended. Was not my intention
JD – To each his own in French Canada.
Alex still gets on base well. It is true he is good at blocking pitches, mostly with his head. Guy’s had quote a few concussions. Still throwin’ out those runners.
good – he owes them given how terrible he was
Avila is a disaster move on. King of strikeout when you need a hit.
Somehow this will corollate with him going back to Detroit.
What about Varsho?
wasn’t he taken in 2015 or 16? And another third round or something like that? I think you might need more time in the system, but I don’t remember for sure off the top of my head
Varsho is being tested on several positions. He is likely not to stick as a catcher, I think his defence is not great and his offence to good, he’s considered an everyday bat.
I’m not overly fond of the idea of bringing back Avila, but there are certainly worse options out there. I’d be surprised if Arizona’s front office didn’t explore other options before looping back around to Avila if he’s seen as the best fit
Avila is a great backup catcher for the Dbacks.
Avila’s leadership and clubhouse skills are excellent
and a perfect fit for the young retooling Dbacks roster.
For some teams, Avila would be the starter.
When he hangs up his cleats, I can see Avila as a major league coach and manager some day.
Get it done!
Just be a catcher or a weird delivery lefty and you’ll never be truly out of work.
will he go into the HOF with a Diamondbacks or Tigers hat?
Bochys Retirement Fund
Depends when he visits I suppose. Could be sombrero or those little birthday ones if he felt like it.
In all reality the Dbacks have a little room to play with salary if they’re looking to contend and feel catching is a serious pitfall in their lineup. But he’s relatively cheap, veteran, decent defense and has shown the ability to have an offensive presence. Feel as if they should concentration on pitching.
I’m slightly siding on a bit of a down turn similar to the Rockies though.
He would be cheap, but his floor is probably fairly low as he continues to age. I expect the snakes will bring him back.
Interested to see how Kelly performs in year 2.
We have been Diamondback fans from day 1. Watch all the games. Please, enough of this Avila stuff. #1 Why would an opposing pitcher walk him. Come right at him. He`s usually going to strike out or hit a weak ground ball to the right side for an out. #2 The organization has already wasted enough money on him. #3 Yes, I suppose he will be a coach or something some day ( he has the family, Detroit Tigers, ) to back him up on that. Lets not pay him anymore to hone his coaching skills while sitting in the dugout & making another couple of million dollars when that money could be going somewhere else to help the club. PS Went to an Arizona Fall League game the other night. Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks( shortstop/second baseman ) looks like the real deal.