Nationals catcher Alex Avila will retire at the end of the season, The Athletic’s Maria Torres reports (Twitter link). While Avila plans to remain involved with the sport and “doesn’t intend to stay out of the game for long,” the veteran backstop will be hanging up his glove after 13 Major League seasons.
Breaking into pro ball as a fifth-round pick for the Tigers in the 2008 draft, Avila is best remembered for his eight seasons in Detroit, highlighted by a Silver Slugger performance in 2011. Avila hit .295/.389/.506 with 19 homers over 551 plate appearances in that breakout year, earning an All-Star nod and a 12th-place finish in AL MVP voting.
While Avila never again quite reached those heights, he has often provided good offensive production from the catcher position throughout his career, offering on-base skills and a bit of power (while also struggling to avoid strikeouts). Over his 3626 career PA, Avila has a .233/.348/.393 slash line and 105 home runs, good for an above-average 101 OPS+ and 104 wRC+.
Defensively, Avila has been one of baseball’s best at preventing stolen bases, throwing out 30.13% (213 of 707) of baserunners trying to steal. He has also been a solid pitch-framer for much of his career, and he been widely praised as a game manager and handler of pitchers.
This reputation has helped Avila catch on with six different teams (the Tigers, White Sox, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Twins, and Nationals) over the course of his career, mostly recently his one-year free agent deal with Washington. Avila has made only 99 PA over 29 games, as calf injuries kept him on the injured list for almost two months, and he also missed time at the start of the year on the COVID-19 list. Injuries have been a significant part of Avila’s career, including multiple concussions and leg problems.
Only 34 years old, Avila now moves onto the next phase of his baseball career, and could very well continue his family’s history of off-the-field success. His father Al Avila is the Tigers’ general manager, and his grandfather Ralph was a longtime Dodgers scout who was a key figure in the development of the Dominican baseball pipeline.
We at MLB Trade Rumors congratulate Avila on a fine career, and wish him the best in his next endeavors.