The Chicago Cubs have a catcher problem.
They lost beloved backup catcher David Ross over the offseason, which defensively has not been a huge blow, but his retirement did suck a lot of heart out of the clubhouse. This season they’ve been relying on Wilson Contreras and Miguel Montero to fill the role behind the plate.
Over the past 24 hours, however, things have gotten pretty heated as far as Cubs catching goes. On Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals snagged seven stolen bases, and when Montero was asked about it after the game he didn’t take any of the blame on himself, but rather shoved starting pitcher Jake Arrieta right under the oncoming bus.
Montero told reporters, “That's the reason they were running left and right today, because they were slow to the plate. Simple as that. It's a shame it's my fault because I didn't throw anyone out.” The “they” he’s referring to here is obviously starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, who is not known to have the slowest delivery.
Today, when Anthony Rizzo was asked about the remarks, he said, “When you point fingers you're a selfish player. We have another catcher that throws everyone out.”
Just over 12 hours after Montero made his comments, he was DFA’d and catcher Victor Caratini was called up.
So, the Cubs have a catcher problem.
What the Tigers have could ultimately be the perfect solution. Alex Avila, who returned to the Tigers this season on a 1-year deal, is having a career-best year. He’s hitting .323/.439/.587 and has an OPS that’s a whopping 1.026. Avila, by all accounts, should be representing the Tigers in the All-Star game this year for the season he’s having.
He’s also one of the team’s strongest chips to deal in a trade. With the limited time left on his contract and the season stats he’s posting, the Tigers would be foolish to not try to trade him while his stock is through the roof. Likewise, Avila would probably love an opportunity to play for a team that has a chance of making the postseason.
Additionally, he’s the kind of even-keeled, level-headed player the Cubs desperately need in their clubhouse to fill the void left behind by David Ross’s retirement. Avila is professional, intelligent, and works well with veteran players and young guys alike. He’s precisely the kind of settling force the Cubs could benefit from having on their bench. And with numbers like the ones he’s posting this season he could be a tremendous asset to help the Cubs catch up to the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
As of right now there are no teams specifically connected with Avila, but if the Cubs are willing to rely on a catcher from their Triple-A Iowa club, they’d be a lot better off with Avila on their roster for the rest of the season. It could be an ideal solution.