Late last night, the Detroit Tigersagreed to send closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to Chicago in exchange for Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes, a pair of infield prospects. The suddenly hot NL Central-leading Cubs are getting a top arm to increase bullpen flexibility and a reliable two-way backup for Willson Contreras as the dog days of August arrive.
Joe Maddon now has a lefthanded arm to pair with Wade Davis in late-game situations. Wilson had been a revelation for Detroit since inheriting the closer role from the now-banished Francisco Rodriguez. He’s converted 13 saves and carries a 2.68 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP, and 12.3 K/9.
But it is Avila who is the most interesting piece of this deal. The 30-year-old has experienced a renaissance this year, once again finding the power and potential he showed during the All-Star season of 2011. Avila is hitting .274 after four years of .227, .218, .191 and .213. His OPS sits at .869, more than 100 points above his high-water mark during that span.
There are two more things of note regarding Avila. One, he’s an above-average defender who has managed staffs during deep postseason runs repeatedly. Secondly, he’s the firstborn son of Tigers general manager Al Avila, meaning there’s a biblical feeling to the whole thing.
It should be noted at Avila has already been the prodigal son, returning after a one-year detour with the Chicago White Sox.
The challenging human element of trading away your own son is obvious. On its face, though, it seems as though the elder Avila got a solid return of two potential offensive weapons for his organization, which is deeply bereft of them. And granting your son a very real chance at a World Series ring has to help soften the blow a bit.
Could be one of those situations where both teams — and both Avilas — benefit.