Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with catcher Alex Avila. The two sides agreed to a one-year deal for 2014 worth $4.15 million. The deal includes a vesting option for 2015 worth $5.4 million with a $200,000 buyout clause. Sherman adds that the option vests if Avila makes the 2014 All-Star team, finishes in the top-15 in AL MVP voting, or wins a Silver Slugger award.
This was Avila’s second year of arbitration eligibility. Avila had filed for $5.35 million while the Tigers filed for $3.75 million. Avila’s actual $4.15 million salary is slightly below the midpoint between the two sides.
Avila posted a .693 OPS in 102 games last season, missing time on the DL in June after getting hit in the arm by a pitch, and in August after suffering a concussion from a collision at home plate. He suffered a strained patellar tendon during Game 5 of the ALCS against the Red Sox when fellow catcher David Ross ran into him at home plate. All in all a tough year for the 27-year-old, who is looking to bounce back with a productive year.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.