Minnesota Twins sign Alex Avila to be backup catcher

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Alex Avila #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Alex Avila #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins brought the veteran catcher back to the American League Central on a one-year deal to back up Mitch Garver.

The Minnesota Twins have plenty of needs this offseason and while many are awaiting the resolution to their pursuit of Madison Bumgarner, the Twins also need to fill holes throughout the roster. One of those voids was backup catcher, where Jason Castro filled in admirably, but also hit the free-agent market looking for a starting job.

Although the Twins have Willians Astudillo on the roster, the team wanted to find someone a little more productive at the plate and in the end settled on veteran Alex Avila.

Avila returns to the American League Central on a one-year deal that ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported is worth $4.5 million. The 33-year old spent the majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers before stints with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs before spending the last two seasons in Arizona.

Those looking for Avila to win a batting title will be sorely disappointed, as he carries a career .235 batting average and hit just .207 for the Diamondbacks in 2019. What Avila does bring to the plate is an ability to get on base, drawing 36 walks in 201 plate appearances and hitting nine home runs to fuel a respectable .421 slugging percentage.

The Twins will also be getting an upgrade defensively by adding Avila to the roster as he has been a pro at holding runners on. Avila had limited opportunities as the Diamondbacks’ backup catcher last season, but threw out 11-of-21 (52%) of opposing baserunners and holds a 30% caught stealing rate for his career.

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With Mitch Garver having a breakout season in 2019, the Twins don’t have to worry about Avila producing on an everyday level behind the plate. As a secondary option when Garver needs a breather, he can be productive without having the Twins fretting of losing anything defensively. Mix in the Astudillo being the likely beneficiary of the 26th roster spot, signing Avila gives the Twins plenty of options behind the plate.

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