Alex Avila: To Trade or Not to Trade? That is the Question for the Tigers


Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila has not performed nearly as well as the team, and fans, had hoped.

Things were looking so bright for him after the 2011 season. He was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger Award, but the seasons after were all downhill from there, at least offensively.

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Since debuting in 2009, Avila’s batting a career .246 average. Ever since that 2011 season, he’s been falling off more and more. In 2011, he was at .295. Fantastic! 2012? .243. Okay. 2013? .227. Well… 2014? .218 with 151 strikeouts… It seems like the only numbers going up are the ones on Avila’s checks.

This season, he made it up to just .200 before being placed on the DL. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reported that Avila may also need surgery to remove “loose material” from his left knee, and he could be out 2-6 weeks.

Avila is no stranger to the DL. Concussions have been the story of his career the last few years. The man can take a beating, that is for sure.

Anthony Fenech and Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reported in February that Avila would be sporting a hockey-style mask and new crouch position this year in order to combat the many concussions.

“We’re hoping that by having him set up a little lower,” said manager Brad Ausmus, “that might decrease the likelihood of foul tips hitting him more directly in the head as before.”

As for his defensive skills, do they make up for his offensive woes? I think not.

Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers /

Detroit Tigers

Avila is inconsistent at best. He was ranked No. 2 out of all MLB catchers in caught stealing percentage in 2014 at 33.6%. The season before, he was not even in the top 15. Before that, he was No. 8.

So what does Avila have that has kept him around so long? A great rapport with pitchers? A workhorse attitude? A father in the Tigers front office? (Hint: He definitely has No. 3).

His VP and assistant GM father may not enter into play at all, but it is definitely worth noting. He seems to handle pitchers very well, but honestly, isn’t that a catcher’s job? I don’t think that makes him unique. How much of it is his call versus the call of one of the coaches or the pitcher?

I will be the first to admit, however, that he has played through a lot of pain. Being a catcher is rough, no doubt about it. He takes foul balls and direct shots to various parts of his body all the time, but he keeps on trucking. That being said, players like Cabrera and Martinez have played through plenty of pain and still produced above-average numbers.

The statistic that I cannot get over is Avila’s .145 average in the postseason. On a team like the Tigers, players have to come alive in the playoffs. Tigers fans and players expect to get into the postseason every year, so having any starter bat .145 career at the most important time of the season is pretty unacceptable.

McCann and Holaday are solid, but maybe not starters. Guys like Chris Iannetta, Matt Weiters and Josh Phegley could be options for trades or contracts.

So what do you think about Avila? Who do you think the Tigers should go after, if anyone? Avila is a free agent next season, so should the Tigers trade him, wait it out or keep him?