There's been a lot of talk here about Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the Red Sox need for a new catcher. I've been leading the charge with my call for Cubs all-star catcher Geovany Soto, although calls for Miguel Montero, Russel Martin, and David Ross have also been heard between last offseason and now. Allow me to bring up one last name that could be had: Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila.
Avila didn't exactly impress in 2010, putting up a slash line of .228/.318/.340, good for a .297 wOBA. We could probably get similar production from Salty this year. However in his two years in the minors Avila did much better, posting wOBAs of .356 and .371 in single A and AA respectively. This year seems to correspond with those numbers as opposed to 2010, with Avila posting a .367 wOBA so far. Last year he sat around a 21% LD percentage but had a 24.1 K%.
Defense is a difficult issue for catchers, although I can say from an eye test that Avila blocks the plate well, and many professional scouts call him "solid" defensively. Last year he threw out 20 of 63 potential base stealers, although with the Sox current mindset we should assume that those numbers go down.
Many of us here at OTM are prepared to go into a "wait and see" mode with Salty, but it should be noted that the Tigers have some serious needs of their own for 2011. Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez are not performing, and it should behoove the Sox to take advantage of this fact while several of their own prospects still have value. Jose Iglesias and Ryan Kalish are not performing up to expectations, while Josh Reddick seems to have learned patience and Yamaico Navarro was killing the ball before going on the DL. Perhaps now is the time to sweep in and make some things happen in Detroit by sending one of our highly touted but underperforming prospects to Michigan in exchange for Avila.