Major League Baseball is a business, and few people understand that as well as Al Avila.
The Detroit Tigers general manager made a big transaction on Monday, shipping his own son, catcher Alex Avila, to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a pair of infield prospects and a player to be named later.
The younger Avila, who’s spent all but one of his nine seasons in Detroit, will provide the Cubs with a crucial veteran presence to back up 25-year-old Willson Contreras. The Tigers also sent over left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, who’s in the midst of a career year.
This kind of trade doesn’t happen every day — in fact, it’s been decades since we last saw a family bond like this one tested by the trade market.
This isn’t the first time that the Avilas have gone their separate ways. When the younger Avila became a free agent after the 2015 season, he was allowed to leave Detroit for the Chicago White Sox, a division rival, for just $US2.5 million. The elder Avila brought him back late last year.
For what it’s worth, both men seem to have a healthy perspective on their unique situation.
“You gotta take yourself out of the equation of being the dad and say, regardless, there’s going to be some scrutiny with the guys we want,” Al Avila said in January.
“My dad is very no-nonsense,” said Alex Avila at the beginning of last year, when he was preparing for his lone season in the Windy City. “He can talk to anybody, but he doesn’t beat around the bush. So we always understood there has to be a hard line there as far as he’s my father, but he’s also my employer. That was never an issue for us.”
The younger Avila, known as The Titanium Catcher for his ability to take foul tips, is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s hitting .274/.394/.475, a huge improvement over the 90 OPS+ he posted between 2015 and 2016.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are 47-56 in the American League Central and appear to be headed towards a rebuild. They received youngsters Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes in exchange for Avila and Wilson.
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