Analysis

Alex Avila Linked to Cubs

It has been a brutal 48 hours for the Chicago Cubs. On Wednesday, the team decided to designate catcher Miguel Montero for assignment after he called out Jake Arrieta.

To replace Montero on the roster the Cubs have called up catch Victor Caratini. It’s unknown if he can be the long-term solution as the backup catcher.

The rumors are already swirling on who the Cubs should bring in to replace Montero. One of those names resides in Detriot with the Tigers.

Does this move make sense for the Cubs? In a way, yes.

Avila will be available at the deadline. The Tigers are currently 32-43, which is good enough for fourth place in the AL Central. They are also six games behind the Cleveland Indians for first place. Avila will also be a free agent at the end of the season. The Tigers have a young catcher in James McCann, who is under contract for the next three seasons. So, there really is no incentive for Avila to stay in Detriot.

We know Avila is available, but what would it take to get him? Most likely, a lower level prospect or potentially a player to be named later would get Avila to the North Side. Avila does have an injury history, including several battles with concussions. That makes trading for him risky if you are the Cubs. Honestly, the Tigers would be happy with anything in return for the veteran backstop.

Think of Avila as Miguel Montero that can actually still throw baserunners out. As Jon Morosi alluded to in his Tweet, Avila can still keep the running game in check. This season, he has caught 40% of the runners trying to steal on him. Pretty impressive for a guy who still considered by many as a backup. Avila’s bat also makes him a viable option for the Cubs.

His slash line is also impressive: .323/.423/.587 in just 180 plate appearances. He also has a WAR (wins above replacement) of 2.4, which is good for 24th best in all of the MLB.

The bottom line is the guy can still hit and play solid defense. That is exactly what the Cubs are looking for in a backup catcher, especially during a playoff run.

Wilson Contreras will be the team’s starter, but having a guy like Avila is important to the Cubs. All three catchers came up huge in the playoffs and were one of the reasons why the Cubs were able to win it all in 2016.

It was time for the Cubs to move on from Montero. Kudos to the front office for having the presence of mind to make that move. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy one. Not many moves like that are.

Unless Caratini bursts onto the scene similar to how Contreras did last year, then I make a move for a backup catcher if I’m the Cubs. Leaning on young players isn’t always the best thing to do. Sure, it works out sometimes, but it’s best to have veterans that have been there before and know what it takes to be a successful player in the big leagues day in and out.

Again, Avila will be available, the question is will the Cubs decide make a move for him?

Also, check our recent article explaining why the Cubs and Justin Verlander are the perfect fit.

 

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Categories: Analysis, Cubs

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