Tigers pick up Avila’s option
The countdown towards the Tigers’ deadline on Alex Avila’s $5.4 million club option ended a few days early. The team announced Monday that it has picked up the option ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
The club option was part of the contract that the team and Avila’s agent, Jim Murray, negotiated last winter to avoid arbitration. Avila made $4.15 million this year until that deal. Given the traditional salary increases from second- to third-year arbitration eligibles, the improvement in his defensive numbers, and the uptick in his metrics (Avila’s WAR rose from 0.6 last year to 2.1 this year, according to fangraphs.com), Avila was likely to get at least that much in arbitration.
Essentially, the Tigers had four options with Avila. If they didn’t pick up the option, they could’ve faced another potential decision next month on whether to tender Avila a contract or drop him from their roster, either to try to negotiate a new deal or simply let him go. There’s also the trade option, which began circulating the lobby at last week’s MLB General Managers Meetings. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Tigers were listening on trade interest on Avila, and that the Red Sox, Braves and Cardinals could be interested. Detroit has also been linked in rumors to complementary type catchers, such as switch-hitting Astros backup Carlos Corporan.
Notably, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski did not mention Avila by name on Friday when running down the list of hitters in Detroit’s expected lineup for next year, using the term “two catchers” instead.
“I wouldn’t get into any individual discussions,” Dombrowski said Friday. “I would say that at the General Managers meetings, I was probably asked about every player just about that we have, at one time or another.”
Monday’s move doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility. If teams were interested in trading for Avila before this, the fact that his salary is now set doesn’t hurt. If any team was waiting to see if Avila might hit the open market as a nontender move, however, that possibility is over.