Nationals: Washington Signs Alex Avila To Be The New Backup
By Max Rayman
Say hello to the team’s newest backup catcher.
Mike Rizzo has been busy this off-season and one of the remaining items left on his to-do list was to sign a backup catcher. Well, he checked that off with the acquisition of Alex Avila. It was reported earlier tonight that Washington signed the veteran to a one-year deal.
The soon to be 34 year old, is a former All-Star and has a Silver Slugger under his belt. His peak came in 2011 when he hit .295, with 19 homers, 82 RBIs, and an OPS of .895.
The journeyman joins his old friend and batterymate, Max Scherzer. The two played together in Detroit for five seasons (2010-2014) and Avila was Scherzer’s primary catcher. Avila was the catcher for both Scherzer and Justin Verlander when they each won their AL Cy Young awards in 2013 and 2011 respectively.
Besides Scherzer, Avila also has familiarity with a few other pitchers in the Nationals rotation. He was teammates with Patrick Corbin in Arizona during the 2017 season and spent time with Jon Lester in Chicago for the 2018 season.
Avila had a down year in 2020 with the Twins, hitting .184, with a homer, two RBIs, with an OPS of .641. However, in his 12-year carer, Avila is hitting .235, with 104 homers, 388 RBIs, and an OPS of .742. Defensively, Avila is inconsistent. Over 12 years behind the plate, he has -1 DRS and an FRM of -14.4. He will be leaned on more for his bat off the bench and his familiarity with Max Scherzer.
Sadly, this probably means Washington is out on trading for Wilson Contreras. Instead, the team plans on handing the starting reins to veteran Yan Gomes who had an excellent 2020 season. Last year in 109 at-bats, Gomes hit .284, with four homers, 13 RBIs, and an OPS of .787. Expect Avila and Gomes to have an equal platoon split. Avila excels against righties, while most of Gomes’ damage has come against lefties. While not the flashiest moves, Avila adds some much-needed pop coming off the bench.