The Detroit Tigers avoided arbitration with catcher Alex Avila by agreeing to a one-year contract plus an option for 2015, the team announced on Friday. The deal is worth $4.35 million guaranteed, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Avila's agreement comes in below the $4.55 million midpoint of salary figures exchanged on January 17. Avila was asking for $5.35 million while the Tigers filed at $3.75 million.
The contract includes a $4.15 million salary in 2014 and a 2015 vesting option for $5.4 million which kicks in if Avila earns an All-Star berth or a Silver Slugger award in 2014, or if he finishes in the top 15 in the AL MVP vote, reports Sherman. If the option doesn't vest, the Tigers can buy it out for $200,000. In addition, there are bonuses for Avila if he reaches 500 and 550 plate appearances, per Buster Olney of ESPN.
Avila had a poor year at the plate in 2013, continuing a worrisome trend of declining performance over the last few years. He batted .227/.317/.376 last year in 102 games, and has seen his OPS drop from .895 to .736 to .693 over the last three seasons. The Tigers are clearly hoping that he can return the form he showed in 2011, when he was an All-Star, won the Silver Slugger and finished 12th in the MVP race -- all three of the things that can trigger his 2015 option if he repeats them in 2014.
Despite his struggles at the plate, Avila, who turned 27 on Wednesday, has still been the starting catcher on a team that has reached the ALCS in each of the last three seasons. Detroit's starting rotation is one of the best in baseball, and Avila has been the main receiver for that staff.