By: Will Burchfield
Yes, it’s unique, Alex Avila agreed — “Extremely unique,” he said — but no, it’s not bizarre.
He is the player, his dad is the GM and the two have long come to accept that this is the way things are.
But things have been different of late.
Al Avila is trying to rebuild the Tigers ahead of the trade deadline and Alex Avila is drawing interest from a number of teams. A father is in the strange position of trying to pawn off his son.
“I don’t if there’s been many situations like this. But for us, it’s not bizarre,” said Alex Avila. “Obviously it’s something that we’ve never experienced together, but I think he understands and I understand.”
The two have talked about it. They’ve acknowledged, together, that it’s simply part of the game. They won’t let emotions obstruct business, nor will they let business taint emotions.
“This is not something that’s a big deal for us,” Avila said. “We understand that it’s part of his job and it’s part of my job as a player where I’m at in my career.”
It’s the outside observers that make it into a story. Or, to Avila’s comical chagrin, an oft-heard joke. Either he’s never getting traded because his dad loves him, or he’s totally getting traded because his dad can’t stand him.
He’s heard it all.
“I’ve been getting jokes about my dad being my boss for years. They joke one way or the other to the extreme, but I kind of give the courtesy laugh and move on,” he said with a chuckle.
Avila, 30, is enjoying an offensive renaissance in 2017. His OPS of .890 ranks second among big-league catchers with at least 250 plate appearances. A number of contenders could use his left-handed bat, not to mention his steadying presence behind the plate.
He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and will almost assuredly be dealt before the July 31 deadline. The Cubs are a natural fit.
Wherever he ends up, it’s safe to assume Avila won’t be blindsided by the news.
“The one thing my dad has done, is he’s been in communication with everybody (whose) names have been circulated out there. All of us have been well informed,” he said.
That being said, the rumors are an annoyance. They’re inescapable these days, and they take their toll on players and their families. They prey on insecurity.
“You wish the rumors and the speculation didn’t happen because it does involve our lives and more people than just the player itself,” Avila said. “But that’s part of the sport. As players we have to understand it’s our livelihood, yes, but people are watching and are invested in it, so it’s kind of theirs as well.”
Avila admitted he has thought about getting traded and pondered his uncertain future.
“We’re human,” he often points out — and it’s a fair reminder.
He admitted he’s ready for the deadline to pass.
“I think a lot of guys are. You tend to get a little anxious, waiting on whether it does or doesn’t happen,” he said.
On one thing, though, Avila held firm. He won’t let his fate spoil the gift before him.
“I’m still gonna get to play baseball,” he said, “so I’m not worried about it one way or another.”