Every day you'll find a look back at the 2014 season for one of the Indians or their key prospects, as we sort out what happened and what it means for the franchise going forward.
- Position: Infielder/Outfielder
- Age: 33
- Acquired: Trade with Blue Jays on November 3, 2012
- Contract status: $3.5 million in 2015, then becomes a free agent
Aviles had a strange offseason two years ago. First he was traded by Boston to Toronto as compensation for the Red Sox hiring John Farrell as their manager. Then, only two weeks later he was sent to Cleveland in exchange for relief pitcher Esmil Rogers. (Toronto also threw a second player into the deal, a little known catcher named Yan Gomes, about whom I've heard little in the months that have followed.)
Aviles was a below average hitter for the Red Sox in 2012. He ran the bases okay, and played good defense. Aviles was a below average hitter for the Indians in 2013. He ran the bases okay, but his defense slipped a bit. Those trends continued in 2014, though some of the defensive slippage isn't really his fault, as he was asked more often to play different positions on different days, and Terry Francona deserves some of the blame for the outfielders he trotted out there repeatedly this year.
Aviles started 28 games at second base, 28 games at third base, 17 games in left field, 12 games at shortstop, 2 games in right field, and 1 game in centerfield. He did well enough at shortstop (the position at which he spent most of his time prior to joining the Indians), but didn't look as comfortable at second or third, and looked way out of his depth in the outfield.
Meanwhile, Aviles is a very known quantity at the plate, with a very visible trend in recent years. Here are his batting splits from the last four seasons.
- 2011: .255/.289/.409
- 2012: .250/.282/.381
- 2013: .252/.282/.368
- 2014: .247/.273/.343
Over those four years there are 170 players with at least the 1,623 plate appearances Aviles has had. His .281 OBP ranks dead last. Getting on base is the single most important thing a player can do on offense, and Aviles has been dreadful at it for quite some time.
Meanwhile, he least to at least have solid power for a middle infielder, but his slugging percentage has steadily fallen every year, and he hit only 5 home runs all season this year. Terry Francona clearly likes having someone he can start at six different positions, despite that someone playing most of those positions poorly, and providing meager offensive contributions.
2014 grade: D
Aviles just had his option picked up for 2015, so unless he's traded during the offseason he'll be back with the Tribe next season, presumably in the same sort of role he held this year. If the decision were mind, he'd have been let go, because versatility doesn't matter to me if the production is as low as Aviles' has been. Jose Ramirez looked better than expected at the end of the year, and I don't mind him as the team's starting shortstop to begin next season. I worry that Aviles being around means the front office might be willing to let Francisco Lindor stay in Triple-A until midseason (because once he's up, Ramirez moves into Aviles' role, and there's no room for Aviles). Obviously he may be traded when Lindor is brought up instead, but I'd rather the Tribe had saved the $3.25 million they spent to Exercise their option on Aviles instead of buying him out.