Tigers bring back catcher Alex Avila with $2M, 1-year deal
DETROIT (AP) — Alex Avila got a present of sorts, indirectly from his father, and will host a celebration this weekend with his family minus any potential baseball-related drama.
The Detroit Tigers brought back Avila to play behind starting catcher James McCann, giving him a $2 million, one-year contract.
Avila’s father, Al Avila, is Detroit’s general manager.
“I don’t think he was even part of negotiations,” the younger Avila told The Associated Press on Friday night.
Alex Avila spent this year with the Chicago White Sox, then became a free agent for the second straight offseason. Avila said the deal came together between his agent, Matt Laird, and assistant general manager John Westhoff.
“Westhoff contacted my agent and expressed an interest and the last few days, I haven’t really slept much because I’m so excited,” he said. “I’m sure my dad was involved at some point. Now that it’s done, I talked to him and we’ll be together at my house in Florida this weekend. And, we’ll have something other than Christmas to celebrate.”
Al Avila let his son get away as a free agent last year, and now the organization he leads is putting him back on the roster. The Tigers designated right-hander Angel Nesbitt for assignment to clear a spot.
Detroit drafted Avila in 2008 and he hit .242 with 66 homers and 282 RBIs with the Tigers from 2009-15. Avila had career highs in 2011 with a .295 batting average, 19 homers and 82 RBIs, earning his only All-Star selection.
“Alex is a left-handed hitter who has some pop in his bat,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “We like his ability to catch and throw, his familiarity with the organization and his leadership qualities, which makes him an asset to the ballclub.”
The 29-year-old Avila played in 57 games for the Chicago White Sox this year, hitting .213 with seven homers and 11 RBIs. He can make an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses based on starts at catcher: $100,000 each for 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.
“I’ll be backing up James and doing whatever I can to help the team win,” he said. “I might even play some first place to give Miguel (Cabrera) a break and I’ll catch whenever Brad wants me to catch. I love Detroit and I’m really excited to be in that clubhouse and playing with those guys again.”