With the retirement of Brian McCann, the Braves will have to look for an additional catcher to platoon with Tyler Flowers. Francisco Cervelli is now a free agent as well, and Alex Jackson is yet to prove he can hit major league pitching. Of course, the top option on the market is Yasmani Grandal. However, it is unclear whether the Braves will be willing to make a significant financial commitment to a catcher. So if that is the case, what does the team have to work with in free agency?
Braves fans should be familiar with d’Arnaud. He was a long-time NL East backstop with the Mets, and his brother Chase played with the Braves during their rebuild. The Mets finally gave up on Travis after a long injury history, including Tomy John Surgery. However, in his last two full seasons (2017, 2019), he has been one of the better backstops with the stick. He is also a good pitch framer. Due to his injury history, I like him on a one or two-year deal in the $5-8 million AAV range as a stopgap to William Contreras or Shea Langeliers.
Chirinos will be 36 next season but has aged like fine wine. He does not hit for average but possesses a ton of pop. The Braves’ interest in Chirinos will depend on whether they are looking to complement Flowers with offense or defense, and something tells me it will likely be defense. Chirinos is not the best behind the dish, but he is good enough to the point the Braves will give him a look if they are trying to bolster the lineup.
Castro is a step down from the other two players previously listed, but could still be an excellent complement to Tyler Flowers. He lost playing time due to the emergence of Mitch Garver in Minnesota, but he is coming off one of his career-best years with the stick. Like Flowers, he is primarily known for his pitch framing, something the Braves have emphasized. For this reason, I think Castro will be considered, and he could probably be had on a one or two-year deal for around $4 million AAV.
The most significant question surrounding Cervelli is going to be his health, as it was reported he might retire earlier in 2019 due to concussions. This proved not to be the case, and he ended up being a quality piece for the Braves down the stretch. Cervelli has a decent track record in recent memory and could be a great buy-low option for the Braves after what they saw from him last season. He will likely fetch less money than the others but can offer similar production. Atlanta can give him another shot, and hope something gives with the development of Alex Jackson.