7. Alex Avila, C/1B, Detroit Tigers
There are never enough catchers in the major leagues, and especially not enough that contribute as well at the plate as behind it. Therefore, Tigers catcher (and sometimes first baseman) Alex Avila is sure to be one of the most highly sought-after players in baseball ahead of the MLB trade deadline.
Avila, the son of Detroit general manager Al Avila, signed with the Tigers , the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2008, for the 2017 season after spending one year with the division rival Chicago White Sox. An All-Star in 2011, when he hit .295/.389/.506 with 33 doubles, 19 home runs and 82 RBI, Avila has been largely disappointing since. From 2012-16, he hit .222/.337/.362 and averaged 14 doubles, eight home runs and 33 RBI per year.
However, Avila’s return to the Motor City has rejuvenated the 30-year-old left-handed hitter. In 60 games, Avila has hit .305/.424/.557 – all of which would be a career high for a full season. He has 11 doubles, 11 homers and 29 RBI as well.
As good as he’s been offensively, Avila isn’t a particularly good defensive catcher. According to the framing metrics at Baseball Prospectus, Avila ranks No. 71 out of 82 MLB backstops with -3.8 Adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA_ADJ). But, he’s been an improvement over teammate James McCann (-10.5), who ranks No. 81.
But defensive struggles aside, Avila should be on the shortlist for teams in need of catching help. Both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks have gotten below average production from their catchers this season (ranking No. 27 and No. 28, respectively, in fWAR from catchers), which makes the NL West contenders two of the many teams likely to call Alex’s dad about trading his son.