The Diamondbacks and free agent catcher Alex Avila are in agreement on a deal for at least the upcoming season, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The details of the deal aren't yet known. As always in this stage, the deal is pending a physical.
Avila, 31, was traded from the Tigers to the Cubs last July. Overall, he hit .264/.387/.447 (119 OPS+) with 14 homers and 49 RBI in 112 games (376 plate appearances). It was Avila's best season since he started the All-Star Game in 2011. He comes to Arizona with more than those numbers, too, as Avila has a reputation of being an outstanding teammate and veteran locker room presence.
With Jeff Mathis a holdover and an excellent defender behind the plate, Avila looks set to take over the Chris Iannetta role from last season. That is, the offensive catching complement to the no-hit/good defense backstop with good on-base chops and some power.
Avila joins Welington Castillo (White Sox) and Iannetta (Rockies) as the starting-caliber catchers who have signed this offseason. Jonathan Lucroy remains the top available option in free agency. Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto could be had in a trade, in all likelihood. Otherwise only backup-caliber catchers remain on the market, such as Miguel Montero, Geovany Soto and A.J. Ellis.
Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com first reported a deal was close.