If Lobaton departs in free agency, which appears somewhat likely, the Nats will have a need for a catcher. They have Pedro Severino and Raudy Read in the minors, but neither appear to be MLB-ready yet.
In order to fill this hole, one solid option is Alex Avila. Avila spent 2017 playing for the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs, and had a combined slash line of .264/.387/.447 with 14 homers.
Avila also has experience as both a starter and back-up. He has started for most of his career, but was Willson Contreras‘ back-up with the Cubs. As of right now, Wieters appears to be the starter, but he struggled in 2017 and could be on thin ice. Avila’s experience in both roles could prove to be an enormous asset.
Like Arrieta and Cobb, Avila is also connected to the Nats because of a prior relationship with Dave Martinez. If Avila enjoyed his time with Martinez in 2017, he may want to join the Nats.
Although Avila’s prior relationship with Martinez is important, his prior relationship with Max Scherzer is more important. Avila was Scherzer’s catcher in Detroit, and Scherzer had some of his best seasons with Avila behind the plate. During their time together, Scherzer was named an All-Star twice, won a Cy Young Award, and led the American League in wins twice.
Scherzer is one of the most important players to the Nats, and if he wants to reunite with Avila, Rizzo should do everything in his power to bring him to DC.