Braves

Opinion: Braves will be players for top-tier catchers this offseason

The Braves handed Tyler Flowers a one-year, $4 million extension on Tuesday, with a $6 million option for 2020 that includes a $2 million buyout.

Flowers has actually been a bit of a disappointment and has become more of a part-time player in 2018 with Kurt Suzuki taking over the majority of the catching duties. While both Suzuki and Flowers have regressed from last season, it is clear that Suzuki is the everyday option. So why extend Flowers?

As mentioned, Flowers has not been the primary option this season, so it is hard to imagine the team expecting more than that down the road. The catcher position is barren in the MLB right now, and at the very least this gives the Braves an insurance policy entering the offseason.

Flowers is only hitting .225 this season, but put up two solid seasons of offensive production (for a catcher) with the Braves and has a BABIP of .286 this season, well below his career average of .322. This would suggest that a lot of Flowers struggles have been due to poor luck. He has still been able to  maintain a .357 OBP despite the low average and has hit .417 against lefties this year. The main reason the Braves will want him back though is his elite pitch framing, which is essential for the Braves development of young starting pitching.

It is clear the Braves want Flowers back as some sort of part-time player rather than a full-time gig, which leads me to believe the Braves will go after a guy like JT Realmuto, who they tried to acquire around the deadline. Yasmami Grandal will also be a free agent. Considering they locked up a backup first, it looks like the Braves will be weighing other starting catcher options going into 2019. Kurt Suzuki may still be in Atlanta next year, but the Braves seem to be dreaming big here.

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