The Detroit Tigers and catcher Alex Avila will avoid arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $4.15 million deal with a vesting option for 2015, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. The $5.4 million option will vest if Avila does any one of the following in 2014: 1) makes the All-Star team, 2) earns a Silver Slugger award, or 3) finishes in the top 15 in AL MVP voting. If none of those occur, he will receive a $200,000 buyout.
Avila, 27, has served as the club's primary catcher since the 2010 season. In 2011, Avila finished 12th in American League MVP balloting, posting a .295/.389/.506 batting line, 19 homers, and 82 runs batted in. He's struggled to make that kind of impact offensively since, especially as a slugger -- .380 slugging percentage in 2012 and 2013 combined.
Avila had what was likely his worst season behind the plate in 2013. He threw out just 15 of 88 base stealers, and posted a career-worst .993 fielding percentage -- whatever that means. Pitch framing data suggests Avila is right around the league average defensively, especially when it comes to manipulating the strike zone -- though, he has improved every year since reaching the major league level.
The Tigers' pitching staff seemed to respond well to his presence behind the plate. They combined for a 3.38 ERA with Avila receiving, while the league average was 3.99. However, catcher ERA is largely dependent on several factors beyond the catcher's control, so it very well might be useless.
In any event, Detroit appears poised to enter the season with Avila behind the plate for the foreseeable future. He's eligible for arbitration again next offseason, and is set to become a free agent in 2016.
- Cubs sign Jason Hammel to 1-year, $6 million deal
- Minor moves: Wilson Betemit, Manny Corpas, Roger Bernadina, Reed Johnson, Alex Gonzalez
- Breakfast Links: Michael Young retires, Royals re-up Bruce Chen, A.J. Burnett draws interest
- Michael Young retires
- Dayton Moore, Bruce Chen, and the aggregate of defeat