While Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer have stolen most of the headlines, neither appears to be in play for the Cubs at this point. But hey, at least the Tigers are reportedly willing to kick in a little cash in a Verlander trade. Maybe he’ll help them out by pitching well.
Throughout those rumors, one name that has persisted in terms of the Cubs’ interest is Alex Avila. The veteran catcher is having a career year offensively and is also throwing out runners at a high rate. Given that he’s a free agent after this season and would serve as a backup, the asking price can’t be too high. Jon Morosi reported Tuesday that talks between the two teams are continuing.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 18, 2017
Willson Contreras is the clear starter and has seen an increase in playing time since Miguel Montero was designated and traded, but the Cubs likely want to move forward with a more seasoned reserve backstop than Victor Caratini. Though the rookie has a great minor-league pedigree, he isn’t going to reach his potential playing once a week in Chicago and isn’t the ideal option to handle a veteran staff if called upon down the stretch.
With their core set and their biggest pieces already out of play, the only moves the Cubs figure to make at this point are of the low-profile variety. Avila fits that to a tee, even if he does have a sparkling OPS. In addition to solidifying the catcher position with a veteran presence, he would not command a high prospect cost and would not require the Cubs to shuffle the roster.
Expect to keep hearing about this for a little while, as it’s the kind of short-term deal that is made with stretch and playoff runs in mind. Should the Cubs continue their hot run, I’d imagine we see Avila donning blue pinstripes in August.