The Arizona Diamondbacks made a solid acquisition to their lineup on Wednesday with the signing of catcher Alex Avila. The two-year, $8.25 million deal gives Arizona an experienced and consistent leader behind the plate.
Avila, now 31 years old, was dealt at the deadline in 2017 from Detroit to Chicago to bolster the Cubs on their playoff run. Avila will be replacing Chris Iannetta who signed a similar two-year, $8.5 million deal with division rival Colorado before the winter meetings in December.
Iannetta began his career as a 4th round draft pick of the Rockies, and has never appeared in more than 115 games in a season. In 2017 he had a .254 average, .865 OPS, 17 home runs, and 43 RBI in 89 games. Defensively, he throws out 25% of would be base stealers and has a career dWAR of 4.2.
Avila enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance year in 2017. After playing in only 124 games between 2015-2016, Avila played in 112 games in 2017. His .264 average, .834 OPS, 14 home runs, and 49 RBI were his best numbers since his all star campaign in 2011. For his career, Avila has dWAR of 4.5 and has thrown out 29% rate of would be base stealers.
Avila said he spoke with former teammate and free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez about his time in Arizona, which was a factor in his choosing to sign in the desert. General manager Mike Hazen says the team is still pursuing outfield upgrades, with Martinez likely being at the top of their wish list. The signing of friend and former teammate Avila likely won’t make a huge difference in influencing Martinez to re-sign, but it never hurts to try.
If Avila can stay healthy and produce numbers near his career averages, the Diamondbacks will have a bargain on their hands. Look for him to slot in to the lower third of the batting order when the Diamondbacks take the field on Opening Day.
Statistics from Baseball-Reference.