Alex Avila wants to catch for a contender.
Who can blame him? The ultimate goal for any player is to make the most of the season, and to do their part as a member of a winning organization to make it as deep into the postseason as possible. For a free agent, the choice is theirs, and most will opt to go to a team who seems like they’re going to go the distance.
In a recent interview with MLB Network Radio, the former Tigers catcher, who most recently played for the Chicago Cubs, did nothing to hide the fact that his goal this offseason is to sign with a team who has a chance of going to the postseason.
Free Agent Alex Avila is open to being a backup catcher on a winning team pic.twitter.com/Wp5jq6Jjnb— MLB Network Radio Sirius 209, XM 89 (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 29, 2017
There’s no other way to read this statement except that Avila’s goal is to play for a winner, which unfortunately makes his chances of returning to the Tigers remarkably slim.
Avila is in a good position to take his pick of teams looking for a catcher. He had a great season in 2017, his best since his All-Star year in 2011. Between a red-hot start with the Tigers and a decent run with the Cubs, his 2017 numbers were .264/.387/.447. While it’s unlikely he’ll be as strong right out of the gate as he was for the Tigers, he’s more than proven he is a reliable left-handed bat, with strong plate discipline, and the kind of catcher who works well with pitching staff.
The most logical place for Avila, if he wants to play for a winning team, would be to stick with the Chicago Cubs. He has already established himself in the clubhouse, has worked with pitching staff, and seems comfortable playing back-up to Willson Contreras.
Of course, he may want to test the waters and see if there are any starting positions available with other contending teams. Avila managed to stay healthy for the duration of the 2017 campaign, and might be keen to be a starter again. During the peak of his years with the Tigers he was in as many as 141 games in a season, and played in 112 this year, showing he certainly has the stamina to be a starter again.
Should Avila not receive an offer worth snapping up, there’s still a chance he might return to Detroit. As demonstrated last season, he could play for the Tigers up to the trade deadline, and then get swapped to a contending team at that point, providing a win-win for the Tigers and Avila.
It’s not probable that we’ll see Avila returning to the Tigers, however, as he’ll likely be looking for at least a two-year commitment from a team, to provide a little more job security than he would have in Detroit.