(CBS) As you’d expect, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was quite enthused by his team’s addition of left-handed reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila in a trade with the Tigers that became official Monday morning.
The 29-year-old Wilson will give Maddon another trusted arm in high-leverage situations. And he can work in a variety situation, as he’s held righties to a .131 batting average while lefties have hit .220 off him. Wilson boasts a 2.68 ERA and 0.94 WHIP this season while striking out 55 batters in 40 1/3 innings.
“He’s good against both sides, don’t be mistaken,” Maddon said in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Monday. “But he’s really good against righties this year. A lot of times to me that says to me the fastball has a little bit of hop at the end, probably an elevated fastball, you’re probably getting in on righties too. He cuts the ball in on them. So yeah, you can use him against anybody.”
Maddon was also quick to point out that the Cubs now have two starting-caliber catchers with the addition of Avila to back up second-year pro Willson Contreras. The 30-year-old Avila is having one of the better seasons of his nine-year career, all of which has been spent in Detroit. Avila was hitting .271 with 11 homers, 32 RBIs and a .864 OPS in 76 games through Sunday.
“This guy’s not a backup,” Maddon said. “You look at what he’s done this year and you look at his numbers and his history and he’s still absolutely young enough to play more often. But a great complement, an outstanding complement to Willson. So now, to give Willy a day off against a tough right-handed pitcher, here comes Alex, my goodness, we’re in pretty good shape right there. His on-base is more than 100 points higher than his batting average. His OPS versus righties is like .900. That’s elite kind of stuff. Really excited to have him too.”
Maddon hinted that Avila could get more playing time than just a start every few days spelling Contreras. Depending on matchups, Maddon may sometimes shift Contreras to left field and have Avila catch, thus keeping Contreras’ bat in the lineup while not having such a physical toll down the stretch.
“There are all kinds of openings that occur because of Alex being here now,” Maddon said.
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below that was conducted at his “Try Not To Suck Celebrity Golf Outing” on Monday.