Contenders with huge holes to fill

The five biggest voids contending clubs must address this winter

Updated: October 28, 2013, 1:25 PM ET
By Paul Swydan | ESPN Insider

Alex AvilaMichael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesAlex Avila played like a star in 2011, but has been a drain on the Tigers ever since.

As we push ever closer to the brink of having no baseball to watch, it becomes necessary to throw a couple of logs in the proverbial hot stove. To that end, let's examine five positions where teams really need to upgrade.

We're not talking pitching, because everyone needs pitching. (Yes, even the Tigers, or did you not watch their bullpen in the postseason?) And we're also not talking about teams that don't seem like bona fide contenders at this time. I mean, if we wanted to include them, we'd be done after looking at just the Astros and Marlins.

No, we're talking about teams that competed for a postseason berth this season and should do the same in 2014. Because even contending teams need a little TLC.


Detroit Tigers: Catcher

When Alex Avila suffered an injury in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, there was a lot of worry that he wouldn't be able to play in Game 6 either. In reality, though, the Tigers would have been fine without him and should be looking to replace him heading into next season.

That's certainly a touchy subject, considering that his father is the team's assistant general manager, but the simple fact is that Avila didn't cut it this season. His 0.6 WAR (per FanGraphs) ranked just 37th overall among catchers, and 26th among 32 catchers who had at least 300 plate appearances.