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Red Sox pursuing Alex Avila trade?

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The Red Sox could be looking to swing a deal for Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who has fallen on hard times at the plate these past few years.

Leon Halip

The Tigers are listening to trade offers for catcher Alex Avila and, according to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox are among the interested parties:

Back in 2011, Alex Avila looked like a star in the making. At just 24 years of age, Avila was a dangerous force at the plate, hitting .295/.389/.506 in 551 plate appearances for the Tigers as they made their way to the ALCS after four years out of the playoffs.

Since then, however, Detroit's catcher has largely fallen off the map. His power vanished in 2012, and as pitchers increasingly found they had no reason to fear him, so too did his ability to get on base. 2014 brought with it a trio of concussions and another disappointing offensive season. Over the last two years, Avila is hitting to a 90 OPS+, and while the Sox would be looking to have him platoon with the right-handed hitting Christian Vazquez, Avila's numbers against righties are merely serviceable, and his defense a bit of a mixed bag.

All teams need a backup catcher, and with only a very few exceptions those backup catchers are, to put it bluntly, going to be pretty bad. It would be disingenuous to say that the Red Sox could no do better than Avila given their resources and the fact that it's easy to justify making Vazquez the backup to a more established player, but it would be equally disingenuous to expect them to do better than adding Avila to a platoon situation.

That being said, if you're someone who is uncomfortable with the idea of giving Christian Vazquez the lion's share of the at bats for the season, there may be no better argument in his favor than the lack of impressive alternatives. If Alex Avila is here to play a few games against right-handed pitchers so that Vazquez doesn't get worn out before August rolls around, then that's fine. But it's hard to justify actually using a straight-up platoon at the position when Vazquez does his one thing so well and Avila is on the fringe side of acceptable.

Given that, if the Red Sox do pursue Avila, they shouldn't be willing to give up all that much for him. But given his recent performances in Detroit and his impending free agency, they shouldn't have to, either.