Recently, the Cubs added back-up catcher Chris Gimenez on the kind of minor league deal that pretty much is always associated with a “yeah, you’re gonna make the team, but we’re gonna save a 40-man roster spot for now until we absolutely need to put you on at the end of Spring Training.” Sure, he might not make the club, and Victor Caratini might be the back-up out of the gate – the minor league deal preserves that option – but I’m guessing Gimenez has an opt-out date very early in the year if he’s not on the big league team, and his fit as a quality defensive veteran who can hit lefties (and who is close with Yu Darvish) is very strong.
That’s all a precursor way of saying, even though the Cubs signed Gimenez on a “minor league deal,” he was probably the Cubs’ final catcher signing of the offseason. Which means, as much fun as it was to fantasize about having that big bat available in a reserve role, Alex Avila wasn’t coming back to the Cubs.
And now it’s confirmed that he’s not coming back:
dbacks have deal with alex avila
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 31, 2018
Avila, 31, came to the Cubs at the 2017 trade deadline, together with Justin Wilson, after the team had jettisoned Miguel Montero and was in relatively desperate need for another catcher. That “relatively desperate need” wound up becoming an “urgently desperate need” after Willson Contreras hurt his hamstring, and it was a very good thing Avila was around.
The dude broke out with the bat last year, and is probably going to keep raking. There’s some debate about just how good the glove is or isn’t (the defense seems OK, but the framing numbers are pretty much always bad), which is why he was on the fence for teams looking at him as a possible starter.
For the Diamondbacks, Avila probably becomes something close to a starter, though defensively-inclined Jeff Mathis might get more starts than a typical back-up. It’s a pretty great fit for both Avila and the D-Backs, who get a little bit of the offense back that they (probably) lost when another former Tiger rental walked (JD Martinez). It will be interesting to see how much he was able to secure on his contract.
Farewell, Alex. We’ll always have the time you smacked the walk-off single that led to THE walk-off slide:
My favorite Alex Avila memory will always be the time his walk-off single gave us *THE* walk-off slide. pic.twitter.com/L5xW0t9ggv
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 31, 2018