Free agent catcher Alex Avila and the Arizona Diamondbacks finalized a two-year $8.25 million contract on Wednesday.
Avila take over a spot on the Arizona roster spot left open when catcher Chris Iannetta left the team and signed with the Colorado Rockies for $8.5 million.
Avila, who is 31, is the son of Al Avila, the general manager of the Detroit Tigers. Last season, with the Tigers and Cubs, Avila batted .264 with 14 home runs and 49 runs batted in. The Cubs acquired Avila on the trade deadline of July 31. He is a career .243 hitter in his nine seasons in the majors.
Avila said that the deal with Arizona has been talked about for the past two weeks, and he likes the team’s makeup. Essentially what popped into his head first he said was how talented the lineup is.
Avila will join Chris Herrmann and Jeff Mathis as catchers for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks opened up a spot on the roster by designating Rey Fuentes, an outfielder, for assignment on Wednesday.
Avila told reporters in a conference call that he did not have a problem sharing catching duties. He added that he has not played between 120 and 140 games the past few seasons so he is used to sharing the duties behind the plate.
He believes that several teams in the majors are starting to rotate two to three players at catcher due to the position being so tough physically for just one player.
Last season Avila played in 112 games. He was predominately behind the plate, but also played at first base.
Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said that Avila will give the team a left-handed bat from the bench when Mathias or another player is catching.
Avila’s deal was similar to that of Iannetta with Colorado. Hazen said that Iannetta signed with the Rockies before the Diamondbacks decided the direction for the catcher’s position in 2018.
Hazen added that the team is confident in the defensive abilities of Avila but might try working with him on some aspects during spring training.
Avila spoke with former teammate with Detroit J.D. Martinez about Arizona. The slugger was very successful with the team after being traded their just prior to the trade deadline last season. Avila said Martinez spoke very highly of the city, life there, the coaching staff and players.
Avila added that Martinez told him the players were hungry in Arizona and want to win.