Braves contract extension among MLB trade deadline superlatives

Braves injuries

The Braves had a quiet trade deadline. Alex Anthopoulos certainly left no stone unturned, even ringing the division rival Mets about Justin Verlander’s availability. In the end, Atlanta acquired a couple of bullpen pieces and a super utility reserve player.

Pierce Johnson is the most high-profile player acquired, and he’s looked great in the few appearances he’s made since joining the club, allowing no runs across 3.2 innings with a 0.818 WHIP. Brad Hand was the other reliever acquired, but the veteran has yet to make his Braves debut. He provides another lefty arm for Brian Snitker and some insurance in case Dylan Lee doesn’t return to form.

Nicky Lopez was the final acquisition, but fans will likely see a lot less of him than the other two. He’s able to back up every position on the diamond other than catcher, providing elite defense at several of them. If all goes well, the Braves will never have to play him other than as a defensive substitution.

However, none of those moves was the one that appeared in The Athletic’s MLB trade deadline superlatives article. That honor goes to Alex Anthopoulos and Travis d’Arnaud for getting a contract extension done.

Best contract extension: Travis d’Arnaud of the Braves. Even though he’s now the backup to Sean Murphy, d’Arnaud ‘s value as a clubhouse leader, game caller, clutch hitter and part-time DH is a difference-maker. Another smart move by Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, who was able to keep d’Arnaud from free agency, where he could have cashed in with teams such as the Padres, Marlins or Rays.

There was a ton of speculation, mostly from other fan bases, that d’Arnaud would be moved at the deadline. After all, it makes sense on the surface. Atlanta features a backstop duo with two top 10 catchers. Why not move the lesser one to upgrade another facet of the roster? Well, d’Arnaud was never on the table.

He is essentially a second manager on the field and provides the Braves with little to no drop-off when Murphy gets an off day. AA learned his lesson when Kevan Smith, Jeff Mathis, and Stephen Vogt started a bulk of games, providing next to no value. Thankfully, d’Arnaud returned for the postseason, helping the club win its first World Series of the century.

One of the most understated facets of Atlanta’s team-building strategy is locker room chemistry, and the veteran is a glue guy behind the scenes. Now, the Braves have the best catching duo in baseball and will for the next couple of seasons after Travis d’Arnaud agreed to a deal worth $8 million in 2024 with an $8 million club option for 2025.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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