The White Sox signed free-agent catcher Alex Avila to a one-year, $2.5 million contract Wednesday, one day after 2015 backup Geovany Soto signed with the Angels for $1.5 million.
In Avila, a 2011 Tigers All-Star who bats left, the Sox could have a stronger platoon with Tyler Flowers, even though Avila batted only .191 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 67 games (but had a .339 on-base percentage) in 2015. A knee injury put Avila on the disabled list for nearly two months this past season and a concussion in 2014 likely factored into his production. The Sox are expecting him to be better if healthy next season.
“Alex gives us a veteran presence behind the plate who provides solid defense and a productive left-handed bat,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He is a well-respected leader in the clubhouse who will make us stronger.”
Avila, 28, rates well defensively, and if he’s a tougher at-bat than Flowers, manager Robin Ventura might well give him more time than Soto (78 games, 210 plate appearances) received.
Hahn said time will tell how much playing time Avila, a .242 hitter with 66 home runs, 282 RBI and a .345 on-base percentage over seven major-league seasons in Detroit, takes from Flowers, whose career on-base percentage is .289.
“In the end, the most deserving catcher will be the one who will be in the lineup based on how Robin wants to maximize our advantages on any given day,’’ said Hahn, who continues to explore ways to upgrade a weak offense. ‘‘We’re looking forward to making more moves in the coming weeks.’’
Hahn has had “a great deal of discussions” as the Dec. 7-10 winter meetings approach.
“Things may very well start coming together in the coming weeks, and when they do, we will be ready to roll,’’ he said.
Cubs add another bullpen arm
The Cubs acquired left-handed reliever Rex Brothers from the Rockies for minor-league lefty Wander Cabrera as they continue to add pitching to the 40-man roster.
Brothers, who turns 28 next month, was the 34th overall pick in 2009 and had 19 saves and a 1.74 ERA in 2013.
From 2011 to ’13, Brothers posted a 2.82 ERA and 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, but control problems have plagued him since, and the Rockies, who are trying to get younger, designated him for assignment last week. Brothers is set to make around $1.5 million in his second year of arbitration,
Cabrera, 18, had a 2.34 ERA in the Dominican Summer League.
Brothers is the fourth pitcher acquired by the Cubs in the last seven days. They also acquired righty Spencer Patton from the Rangers, claimed lefty Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Mets and signed righty Andury Acevedo to a contract. The Cubs’ 40-man roster is at 38.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.