Wednesday, May 29, 2024
MLBNational LeagueNewsNL EastWashington Nationals

The Nats Get Their Backup Catcher

After losing Kurt Suzuki, the Nats have found the backstop to spell likely starter Yan Gomes. Veteran Alex Avila is headed to Washington on a one-year, $1.5M deal, according to many sources:

This was a signing that made all the sense in the world, and you could kind of see it coming. The Nats apparently got good feedback on Avila from Max Scherzer, who was a teammate of his in their Detroit days. The move gives Washington a left-handed hitting catcher to give Gomes rest here and there. And for any of you who don’t know a lot about Avila, he’s a solid behind the plate, and he does two things with the bat: walk and strike out. Among hitters with at least 1000 plate appearances since 2016, Avila ranks second in walk rate (17.0%) and sixth in strikeout rate (34.9%).

Source: Baseball Savant

He does not hit for a high average and he doesn’t slug a lot, but he will post good OBP numbers and provide adequate defense, which is all you’re really looking for here. He’s also the owner of a career 112 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, which is phenomenal for a catcher. Here’s him sending one to left center in what is now his home ballpark back in 2019:

Source: Baseball Savant

The Nats have made a lot of small-to-medium sized moves this offseason rather than go crazy on a big transaction and I think the signing of Avila is another one of these. Is he J.T. Realmuto? Of course not. Is he likely to be a plus for the Nats if properly used? Absolutely. And that’s what matters. The NL East will be brutal this upcoming season, and the Nats are doing what they think is right to compete again.