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Tigers pick up $5.4 million 2015 option on Alex Avila

By Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

The Tigers took care of some basic business Monday when they exercised their 2015 option on catcher Alex Avila, locking him into a contract that will pay him $5.4 million.

The Tigers could have negated his option year with a $200,000 contract buyout that could have subjected Avila to salary arbitration.

In the end, the Tigers – who aren't commenting beyond a concise announcement – concluded arbitration likely would have delivered a figure at least as heavy as their 2015 commitment.

Avila, 27, who next autumn is eligible for free agency, would have remained under team control in either circumstance.

He batted .218 in 127 games in 2014 with 11 home runs and a .686 OPS. His batting average has dropped each of the last three years from a career high of .295 in 2011.

But he led the American League with 36 runners caught stealing.

Had the Tigers not exercised the option, they would have been left with Bryan Holaday and James McCann – the former Avila's backup in 2014 and the latter with minimal major-league experience – as their catchers for 2015.