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Front Page: Passan: Twins to Sign Catcher Alex Avila

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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:49 AM

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Friday morning that the Twins had an agreement with veteran catcher Alex Avila on a one-year, $4.25 million deal. The 32-year-old posted a .774 OPS and started 49 games behind the plate for the Diamondbacks last season.As Passan noted, the catching market has developed quickly, so it's good to see the Twins lock down Jason Castro's replacement.



Speaking of Castro, Avila's skill set matches up nicely to the former Twins backstop. Avila is a left-handed hitting catcher who boasts a career .241/.358/.417 slash line (.775 OPS) against right-handed pitching.

It's not a perfect comp, as Castro has more power and is the better defender, but Avila will provide the Twins with a veteran presence who is adept at getting on base.

Avila is no stranger to the AL Central, as he spent the first seven years of his career with the Tigers, was with the White Sox in 2016 and then returned to Detroit in 17. Alex's father, Al Avila, is the current executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager of the Tigers.

He's been with the Diamondbacks the past two years, following up a disappointing 2018 with a solid performance last season. Among the 48 catchers with 200 plate appearances last season, Avila ranked fourth in OBP (.353), 15th in OPS (.774), 19th in wRC+ (97) and 23rd in WAR (1.3). Avila also graded out as a positive pitch framer for Arizona last year, trailing Castro by a small margin (3.2 FRM vs. 2.8 FRM, per FanGraphs).

Just a couple weeks ago, Cody Christie mentioned Avila as one of the underrated free agents who would be a good fit for the Twins.

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#2 Brandon

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:57 AM

I like this move. If we can't bring back Castro, this is the next best thing. Jeffers should be ready for 2021.
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#3 Cody Pirkl

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:58 AM

People may not see this as a big deal but this is a fantastic signing. Avila is a similar style player to Castro but actually does a lot of things better. 

 

Castro gets a lot of credit for his defense, specifically his framing. Avila actually grades out better. He's actually in the 92nd percentile in all of baseball. That's huge not just for our young pitchers, but for the whole staff.

 

His offensive numbers look unimpressive, but he got on base at a higher clip than Castro, which was Castro's best offensive skill. While Avila hit close to .200, his expected batting average was closer to .250. Even without tweaks, his offense could improve dramatically just as a result of better luck.

 

This is a fantastic backup catching option and will slot in perfectly for 60-70 games next year. And it came at a price that won't affect financial flexibility in any meaningful way.

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#4 Dman

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:58 AM

I wasn't initially a fan of this signing because of his K issues but his K rate is closer to 30% versus right handers so I can live with that especially with his excellent walk rate.Alex looks like a solid platoon mate with Garver and it sounds like his defense has improved as well.Solid pickup for the Bomba squad.

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#5 bighat

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:03 AM

Solid backup catcher.

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#6 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:12 AM

Brandon really likes this move!!

 

And yes, they seem to love Jeffers and he should be ready by 2021... and Rortvedt should be in the equation then too. 

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#7 rdehring

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:12 AM

Thanks TTKiller for the mention of his defense.He fits well with Garver as a left handed hitter.Although I seem to recall that he was very good defensively back whenever playing with the Tigers, I wasn't certain that was true.If it is it fits perfectly with Garver starting 90+ games a year, Avila at 50+ and Astudillo getting 10-20 starts at some point during the year.

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#8 mikelink45

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:12 AM

"It's not a perfect comp, as Castro has more power and is the better defender, but Avila will provide the Twins with a veteran presence who is adept at getting on base."So are we getting better?

 

The rotation is about to be lead by Berrios, Oddorizzi, Pineda, ?,?Is that better?Cron is gone, no answer is provided yet.Has the BP improved?Now we have a second catcher that is good, but not quite as good as the last one.  

 

So where is the forward momentum?  

Time for a big one.

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#9 Dome Dogg

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:15 AM

I'm heading down to Hennepin Avenue right now to put my blanket down on the parade route. 

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#10 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:28 AM

Meh... He fills a need, is cheap and is only signed for one year but not excited about him.

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#11 Yoke

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:39 AM

Should be good enough as the backup catcher. Let him play vs. right hand pitchers and it'll be alright.

 

If Garver gets hurt and Avila is the starter for a while, I won't be real jazzed up.


#12 prouster

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:43 AM

"It's not a perfect comp, as Castro has more power and is the better defender, but Avila will provide the Twins with a veteran presence who is adept at getting on base." So are we getting better?

The rotation is about to be lead by Berrios, Oddorizzi, Pineda, ?,? Is that better? Cron is gone, no answer is provided yet. Has the BP improved? Now we have a second catcher that is good, but not quite as good as the last one.

So where is the forward momentum?
Time for a big one.


The current alternative is Austudillo. Yes, this move made them better.
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#13 wabene

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:44 AM

"So are we getting better? I would say after the performance of our catcher platoon last year holding serve there is quite good. Also while Castro may have the slight edge at framing Avila guns em down better so a wash.
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#14 DocBauer

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:45 AM

I really liked Vogt if not Castro, as I stated in the other thread, but this is a fine move for 1 yr. Solid, experienced, some power, and just a decent compliment to Garver.
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#15 spycake

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:46 AM

Since the other thread is destined for closure...

 

158 Ks in 358 ABs in last 2 seasons.If the team needs a hit in late innings I assume you pinch hit with Turtle and let him catch an inning or 2.

Avila does strike out a lot, but he also walks a lot, so using ABs will overstate his K rate. He has 435 PAs the last two seasons -- which still means a very high 36.3% K rate!

 

I was going to say, his career rate is only 29.1%, but that was from his early years. He's been above that mark every year since 2013 (33.0% in that time).

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#16 Cody Pirkl

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:46 AM

 

"It's not a perfect comp, as Castro has more power and is the better defender, but Avila will provide the Twins with a veteran presence who is adept at getting on base."So are we getting better?

 

The rotation is about to be lead by Berrios, Oddorizzi, Pineda, ?,?Is that better?Cron is gone, no answer is provided yet.Has the BP improved?Now we have a second catcher that is good, but not quite as good as the last one.  

 

So where is the forward momentum?  

Time for a big one.

Him and Castro are fairly similar on offense and his defense and on base ability look better so yes, I'd argue we got better. It's okay to enjoy these smaller moves that shore up the roster. It's a good signing.

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#17 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:47 AM

 

"It's not a perfect comp, as Castro has more power and is the better defender, but Avila will provide the Twins with a veteran presence who is adept at getting on base."So are we getting better?

 

The rotation is about to be lead by Berrios, Oddorizzi, Pineda, ?,?Is that better?Cron is gone, no answer is provided yet.Has the BP improved?Now we have a second catcher that is good, but not quite as good as the last one.  

 

So where is the forward momentum?  

Time for a big one.

2 more SP spots and Cron's spot left to get better. I still expect one of those SP to be filled by who we already have.

 

So far you are right in that we are not better.We have some everyday players who it wouldn't surprise if we see some regression. I don't see Odo or Pineda being as good either. Berrios I think will be even better. We lost a few coaches too. CWS is better, and even if they don't win the Central yet will be a harder W when they are played.


#18 Cody Pirkl

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:47 AM

 

"So are we getting better? I would say after the performance of our catcher platoon last year holding serve there is quite good. Also while Castro may have the slight edge at framing Avila guns em down better so a wash.

Framing is far from perfect, but Baseball Savant pegs Avila as a better framer. Castro declined a bit to the point where Garver actually rated better in 2018 by some metrics. And I 100% agree, the arm will be awesome.

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#19 spycake

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:57 AM

Also, while Avila is still good at drawing walks, his 2019 stats were inflated a bit by intentional walks. Avila batted primarily in the 8th spot in front of a pitcher last year, and drew 7 IBB in only 201 PA. If you remove those IBB from his BB and PA, his OBP would drop from .353 to .330, his OPS+ from 100 to perhaps 92 or so. (Still a good walk rate, with only a .207 AVG!)

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#20 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 09:01 AM

Good move. I like this guy as a backup catcher. I am very curious though why more effort wasn't put into retaining Castro? Last year's catching situation was flat out, the best in baseball, offensively anyway. 

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