In the first season of his two-year contract. Alex Avila had a spectacularly wretched campaign, hitting just .165 in 234 plate-appearances. There was a ceaseless campaign on social media and valley talk radio for Avila to be canned. But the Diamondbacks kept faith, and he became a useful tandem as Carson Kelly took over the front-line catcher’s job this year. He did have his share of health issues. missing 30 games near the beginning of the season with a strained left quadriceps, and also hitting the DL in June with a calf issue. But around those, he put up a .774 OPS, helped in particular by a 17.9% walk rate, the best on the team among anyone with 50+ PA.
He’s going to be a free agent this winter, and the team needs to decide if they are interested in bringing him back. As a left-handed bat, he would form a natural platoon with Kelly. But if we presume that Kelly will again be the front-line catcher, then the question has to be, how much is it worth paying a backup catcher? Avila wasn’t cheap, earning $4 million and $4.25 million in 2018 and 2019. He will turn 33 before pitchers and catchers report next spring, and his five-year average is now less then 250 PA per season. However, the team does need someone to back up Kelly, and Caleb Joseph - actually six months older than Avila - is probably not the answer.
Rather than a straight yes/no answer, as we had for the team option candidates, we need to be slightly more complex in the responses here. So, as well as the required “Should we offer him a contract?” question, if you answer yes, then you should also pick the length of the contract and the value (note, the latter is in millions PER YEAR, not a total figure). You should, of course, be using your skill and judgment to decide the lowest level which the player will reasonably accept. Because that’s what GMs actually do. I’ll be reporting back on the median offer i.e. half below and half above, in the next installment of these, which will probably be over the weekend.
The form is embedded below: if you can’t see it, or if it’s giving you grief, here’s a link. Feel free to discuss your decision in the comments, and explain who should be backing up Kelly, if it’s not Avila.