Avila, 29, returns to the Tigers organization after playing for the Chicago White Sox in 2016. Avila played in 57 games with the White Sox and hit .213 (36x169) with 19 runs scored, six doubles, seven home runs and 11 RBI.
"Alex is a lefthanded hitter who has some pop in his bat," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We like his ability to catch and throw, his familiarity with the organization and his leadership qualities, which makes him an asset to the ballclub."
Originally drafted by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Avila played in the Tigers organization from 2008-15. In eight seasons at the major league level, Avila has posted a .240 (540x2253) batting average with 265 runs scored, 117 doubles, seven triples, 73 home runs and 293 RBI. Avila was a member of the American League All-Star Team and won an American League Silver Slugger Award as a member of the Tigers in 2011.
A native of Hialeah, Fla., Avila attended the University of Alabama from 2006-08, earning First Team All-SEC honors as a junior in 2008. Avila resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his wife, Kristina, and their daughters, Avery and Zoey.
To create room on the 40-man roster for Avila, the Tigers have designated for assignment the contract of righthanded pitcher Angel Nesbitt.