Atlanta Braves Catching Needs

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As the trade deadline approaches in the coming weeks, many players will be shipped off to join other organizations and teams in all different levels.  Teams will look to bolster their roster for a deep postseason run while others will seek prospects or seasoned big leaguers to set up their organization for success in the impending years.

Atlanta Braves Catching Needs

For the Braves at the trade deadline, their primary short-term need is a catcher. With Tyler Flowers placed on the DL with a broken  hand and the lack of production from veteran A.J. Pierzynski, they need a battery to fill the void.  On July 15, the Braves called up catcher Anthony Recker from the Gwinnett Braves as Flowers was placed on the 15-Day DL.  To potentially add catching depth, they signed former Colorado Rockies backstop Michael McKenry to a minor league deal on July 23.
After the departure of seven-time All-Star Brian McCann following the 2013 season, the Braves have had an absence of output and consistency from the catching position. Since the 2014 season, the Braves have had a total of six different catchers log innings behind the plate.
As for the Braves, their playoff chances for this season have been out the window for awhile now. Due to this, the Braves would need to obtain a durable and productive catcher signed to a multi-year deal or ensure that they can resign one they get via trade. The organization’s bright future and a new ballpark opening in 2017 could potentially be attractive to a young catcher.

 Jonathan Lucroy

One viable and popular option among fans and writers is Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy.  For Milwaukee this season, he’s batting .301 and has belted 13 home runs and 50 RBI.  Lucroy, 30, is a two-time all star and currently in the midst of his fourth season of a five-year contract. His contract includes a Club Option for the 2017 season, meaning that an organization would determine whether or not to keep him following the 2016 season. The worry for any team to trade for a player with less than two years left on their contract is the potential to lose them in addition to basically giving away players or prospects.
With the Brewers playoff chances out of reach, Milwaukee may be willing to put their All-Star catcher on the trading block. As the Brewers’ future looks very dim, expect them to ask for prospects to bolster their farm system along with their future.

Derek Norris

One potential under the radar trading partner for the Braves is the San Diego Padres.  With the two clubs already swapping pieces in the trading of the Upton Brothers and perennial closer, Craig Kimbrel, they’re familiar with each other’s wants and asking price. For Atlanta, catcher Derek Norris would be a nice bolster to the lineup and would not attract nearly as many pieces as a deal for Lucroy. Norris’ production has dropped this season with an average of .209 and a .268 OBP.   Seeing as Norris is openly being shopped by San Diego and is only 27 years of age, he may be worth it for Atlanta.  However, the Padres haven’t fared well in trades with the Braves recently. This could change with the Braves being able to offer prospects, something San Diego wouldn’t be able to refuse.

Brian McCann

One possibility for Atlanta is to try and reunite with an old flame.  The New York Yankees could be a potential trading partner with Atlanta.  The Yankees are rumored to be reaching out to the Chicago Cubs for injured catcher, Kyle Schwarber.  With the Cubs and Yankees already being involved in a blockbuster trade on Monday, it is doubtful that the Yankees will get Schwarber.  This is a long-shot and the Cubs have stuck with their intentions of keeping Schwarber, but nothing is stopping the idea from spreading.
Brian McCann was born in Athens, Georgia just an hour and a half from Atlanta.  In his tenure with Atlanta from 2005-2013, McCann was a seven-time All-Star with a .277 batting average.  While playing for the Braves, McCann hit 176 home runs in addition to 661 RBI.  Since McCann joined the Bronx Bombers to begin the 2014 season, he’s hit .233 with 63 home runs and 209 RBI.
For McCann, returning to play in Atlanta may be a good option for him.  Seeing as he’s under contract through the 2018 season with a team option for 2019, the only way for McCann to have a homecomig to Atlanta would be via trade.  Overall, his performance in the American League has downgraded since leaving the National League.  Although McCann left Atlanta to play elsewhere, at this point in his career there’s no telling where he may end up.

Free Agency

An option for the Braves to deal with their catching woes could be to wait until the off season. Current Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters played baseball at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  Seeing as Wieters has already played four years of baseball in Atlanta, returning to play for the Braves would be an understandable and safe option.  Wieters is currently hitting .250 with a .306 OBP to go along with nine home runs and 36 RBI.  Wieters would be able to provide Atlanta with the stability they need behind the plate and might even take a pay cut to return to his old stomping grounds.
A seemingly reasonable option for the Braves is current Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos.  Following the 2016 season, Ramos will become a free agent and will be the youngest catcher in the class.  For Washington, he is batting .337 in addition to 15 home runs and 53 RBI.  At 29 years of age, he has the potential to stabilize the starting catching position in Atlanta for years to come.

Prospects

When it comes to the ever so unpredictable trade deadline, one thing is for certain. That one thing; prospects will be involved. Prospects are a hot commodity for any organization and can help enhance their outlook for the future.  Often when star players are dealt it’s for prospects who are projected to have a high upside and outstanding potential.  The Braves are stockpiled with prospects and have exactly what many organizations long for.  They’re loaded with young arms and their future in their rotation and bullpen looks extremely bright.  Whether it is at the trade deadline or during the off season, expect the Braves to make some moves involving the catching position.
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