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Four takeaways from D-backs' deal with Avila

Veteran catcher adds depth; GM shows patient approach
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers and catchers will take the field for their first Spring Training workouts in less than two weeks, and the Arizona front office continues to work to improve the roster.

On Wednesday, the D-backs checked a big item off their offseason to-do list by signing catcher Alex Avila to a two-year contract.

PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers and catchers will take the field for their first Spring Training workouts in less than two weeks, and the Arizona front office continues to work to improve the roster.

On Wednesday, the D-backs checked a big item off their offseason to-do list by signing catcher Alex Avila to a two-year contract.

Here are some takeaways from the signing:

The D-backs believe Avila's pitch-framing can improve
Since taking over as Arizona general manager after the 2016 season, Mike Hazen has emphasized defense from the catching position. The D-backs dealt Welington Castillo last offseason and added Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta because they liked their defense and ability to call games.

Avila did not have good pitch-framing numbers last year, going by advanced metrics, but after watching him, the team thinks there are a few adjustments he could make that could change that. If they didn't, it seems unlikely they would have signed him.

Video: Avila on agreeing to two-year deal with D-backs

Ownership is committed to winning
The D-backs' projected payroll is somewhere in the $125 million range, which would be far and away a club record for Opening Day payroll. The previous high was $112 million in 2014, when the team thought it had a contender for the National League West crown.

While a $125 million payroll might not be a big deal in a market like New York or Chicago, for Phoenix it certainly is. It once again shows that managing general partner Ken Kendrick and his partners are willing to step up when the team has a legitimate chance to contend.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Welcome to Arizona, Alex Avila!The #Dbacks have officially agreed to terms on a 2-year contract with the veteran catcher. pic.twitter.com/ywguaV416Q

Hazen has disciplined approach to job
Flexibility and sustainability are two keywords for Hazen. In two offseasons with the D-backs, he has not overpaid for a player out of desperation or impatience. Rather than rush to re-sign Iannetta, or quickly grab a replacement, Hazen and his group targeted the catchers they wanted and let the market come to them.

They were able to do that because they had John Ryan Murphy on the 40-man roster after acquiring him last spring to build depth.

That approach also can be seen in how the bullpen has been assembled. After focusing on the back end and spending trade capital on Brad Boxberger and money on Japanese free agent Yoshihisa Hirano, Hazen waited until last week to add veteran relievers Michael Blazek, Kris Medlen, Fernando Salas, Antonio Bastardo and Neftali Feliz on Minor League contracts to provide depth and competition during Spring Training.

Video: Medlen, Bastardo could provide D-backs with depth

Another move might be coming
Hazen indicated that he and his staff were still pursuing other additions, and it would be logical to think it could be an outfielder. The D-backs have little depth beyond Yasmany Tomas, David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and super-utility player Chris Owings.

Adding an outfielder and maybe more depth -- there's that word again -- to the farm system by dealing one of their surplus of middle infielders would seem to make sense.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Alex Avila