Tigers' Avila puts pending free agency on backburner

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Alex Avila

Lakeland, Fla. – David Price and Yoenis Cespedes are not the only prominent Tigers entering a contract season.

Catcher Alex Avila will also be free agent-eligible after this season.

"You don't approach it, you just play," Avila said. "With that stuff, if you don't think about it or worry about it, it takes care of itself."

Avila will make $5.4 million this season and it's hard to peg what his value might be on the open market. Defensively and in terms of handling a pitching staff, there are few more respected than Avila.

But waning offensive production the last three seasons and a history of brain injuries (concussions) might make him a risky buy.

"I've never even thought about it until you asked me," Avila said. "To be honest, I probably won't think about it until the season is over."

He has thought about being a free agent, however.

"Players want to get to this point, to have that chance to be a free agent," he said. "But I hope to God I am back. I've spent six years here. That's a long time. I've been able to accomplish a lot with this team. We'll see what happens. Just play. Things will work themselves out in the end."

Avila said he doesn't know if contract talks have or will take place between the Tigers and his agent before the season.

"No idea," he said. "During the season it is completely out of my hands. I'm not trying to engage in anything. I am not even concerned about that. I am only concerned about winning games."

It would probably serve both Avila and the Tigers to commence contract talks after weighing the evidence collected this season – evidence regarding Avila's health, durability and offensive production.

The Tigers will also want to collect evidence on catcher James McCann. As manager Brad Ausmus said on Monday, "We think he has the potential to be a big-league starting catcher at some point in his career. When that is, I am not sure."