Alex Avila in agreement with Nationals on one year contract

The Washington Nationals bring in Alex Avila to backup Yan Gomes for the 2021 season.

This past week, the Washington Nationals made a huge splash by signing top left-handed relief pitcher Brad Hand to a one-year, $10.5 million contract and re-signed Ryan Zimmerman a one-year pact. Now, with the NL East getting that much more interesting, the Nationals decided to fill a void in their catching depth chart.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Nationals and Alex Avila have reached an agreement on a one-year contract pending a physical.

Nationals get catching depth for upcoming campaign

The Nationals were in need of a backup to Yan Gomes, who is entering the final year of his contract, after Kurt Suzuki signed with the Los Angeles Angels this winter. Avila wasn’t signed because he was the best on the open market. Rather, he has some history with the starting rotation throughout his 13-year career.

Avila caught for Max Scherzer during their time with the Detroit Tigers, Patrick Corbin with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jon Lester as members of the Chicago Cubs. Giving those pitchers a catcher who’s familiar with them is a wise decision by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.

The veteran catcher spent the truncated 2020 season with the Minnesota Twins. In 23 games, Avila slashed .184/.355/.286 while recording nine hits, six runs scored, one home run and two RBI. Behind the plate, Avila posted a .981 fielding percentage where he recorded three errors in 162 defensive chances.

The Nationals are coming off a down season in 2020, where they finished in last place in the NL East one year removed from winning their first-ever World Series. While the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have received the most attention in the division this offseason, the Nationals have built themselves a relatively solid team to prove that last year was an outlier.

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