One trade down, how many more to go?
With 12 days remaining until the July 31st trade deadline, there is still plenty of time for moves to be made. And while the response to the J.D. Martinez trade has been less than stellar, there may still be some blockbuster moves on the horizon for the Tigers.
Alex Avila, the Tigers’ backup catcher, has had a remarkable 2017 season. With a .292/.420/.518 line, he’s having his best year since his 2011 All-Star season. While he may have slowed down on the big blasts lately, he’s still having a career-best season in on base percentage, and already has a whopping 42 walks this year, showing he doesn’t need the hard hits to get on base.
Avila would be a tremendous addition to any team who needs strong offense and also a quality back-up catcher or first base option — both positions Avila has played this season and in previous years.
With all that in mind, which teams have been showing interest lately? We will update this list regularly as rumors surface.
7/28 — Cubs not as keen
According to Ken Rosenthal, while Avila is still in consideration he is not their “current priority” as they’re more interested in defensively strong catching from their backup.
7/27 — Cubs and Rockies
Jon Morosi reports that the Chicago Cubs are still interested, and now the Rockies are officially in the mix. Rockies are also apparently showing interest in Rangers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
7/20 — Cubs still front-runners
Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes a deal for Avila will be the Tigers next move and that the Cubs are the best and most interested fit.
7/18 — Chicago Cubs
Back in June after the Cubs released Miguel Montero, I wrote about how Avila would be a smart fit for the Cubs. Not much has changed on that front.
The Cubs have been a consistent name on the rumors front since it became apparent Avila would be on the trade market. Since the catcher is a free agent after this season the Tigers would be wise to trade him for a prospect return now.
The Cubs could make great use of a strong catcher to back up Wilson Contreas, and moreover it would give them some additional depth at first base, where currently only Kris Bryant is available to give Anthony Rizzo any relief.
Of all the teams rumored to be interested in Avila, the Cubs are the most logical fit.
7/18 — Colorado Rockies
While not a rumor with any pros to back it up, our friends over at Purple Row point out that the Rockies are in need of a catcher ahead of the deadline. While the team has four catchers available — Tony Wolters, Ryan Hanigan, Dustin Garneau, and Tom Murphy — Purple Row says:
“[They] have quietly been one of the worst groups at any position in the majors. Across their 371 combined plate appearances, they have hit .231/.313/.310, an astoundingly low 45 wRC+. That mark is the lowest in the National League by a whopping 16 points.”
The Rockies currently hold the second Wild Card spot, so a catcher like Avila would be a smart addition to their team. However with nothing to indicate the Rockies have asked about the veteran catcher, it’s hard to imagine this trade taking place.
6/29 — Toronto Blue Jays
This one is a lot less likely, given that the Jays picked up Montero after he was released by the Cubs, so their need for backup catching is slim to none. The team is also well-stocked at first base with All-Star Justin Smoak being backed up by Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. The Jays are likely dead in the water as trade targets for Avila.
Ultimately the team who keeps being mentioned over and over in regards to an Avila trade is the Cubs. While there may be new names that come up as the deadline approaches, it seems likely a return trip to Chicago may be in Avila’s future.