Could Alex Avila return to the Detroit Tigers in 2017, despite the fact that his father did not want him playing in Detroit in 2016?
Believe it or not, there is actually a chance that Avila could be a Detroit Tigers catcher in 2017.
It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers have a position for a backup catcher who can bat left-handed. And, Alex Avila fits that profile. Jarrod Saltalamacchia also fits that profile, and he, like Avila, is a free agent right now.
But, it appears that Alex Avila and his father, Al Avila, could already be discussing the potential reunion of the father and son.
Teams Are Showing Interest in Avila
According to an article by George Sipple with the Detroit Free Press, the Avila family will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday together. And, at the holiday celebration, the baseball family will be discussing their favorite topic: baseball. During their conversations about baseball, father and son will discuss the Tigers’ need for a catcher.
The young Avila reported that there are teams looking at him as they watch how the off-season fares for catchers. According to Sipple, the elder Avila is not opposed to his son returning to Detroit. Alex Avila told Sipple: “Detroit? I would love to come back. The thing for me, at this point in my career, I’m always looking for that opportunity to get as much playing time as possible.”
Avila vs. Salty: The Numbers & The DL
Based on stats, Avila has better numbers that Salty. Avila finished his season with the Chicago White Sox with 7 home runs, 11 RBIs, a .213 batting average, and a .359 on-base percentage. He played in 57 games. Salty had 12 home runs, 38 RBIs, a .171 batting average, and a .284 on-base percentage. He played in 92 games.
However, when it comes to durability, Saltalamacchia has an advantage over Avila. Tigers fans are all too familiar with Avila’s concussions. With the White Sox, Avila spent time on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury. Saltalamacchia was one of the few Detroit Tigers players who was healthy throughout all of 2016. He seemed to always be available to catch, play first base, and to pinch hit whenever the need arose.
According to our sister site, Southside Showdown, in the 15 games prior to his time on the DL, Avila was turning around his offensive game with a slash of .271/.407/.500 with three home runs. Of course, no one knows if that performance would have lasted had he not been injured. But, these numbers were a good sign.
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With the Tigers looking to decrease payroll, Alex Avila would be an inexpensive addition to the team. In 2015, with the Tigers, he had a $5.4 million salary. He took a pay cut with the Sox, making $2.5 million. With his limited performance in Chicago, his value certainly won’t be any higher that it already is.
But, before anyone jumps on the Alex Avila Train, it is important to remember what he did with the Tigers in 2015. Sadly, it wasn’t much. He finished the season playing in only 67 games. With only four home runs and a slash of .191/.339/.287, he was seriously overshadowed by James McCann and his error-free season behind the dish.
It is difficult to remember that Alex Avila was once an All-Star with a Silver Slugger Award who also earned MVP votes. The Avila of 2011 seems so far from the one that’s around today. Fortunately, the Tigers have other positions to fill and players to trade before we fans have to worry about the backup catcher position.