The Atlanta Braves are one of the teams that are thought to need a catcher this offseason. Instead, they should stay the course for the time being.
Over the past two seasons, the Atlanta Braves have been able to cobble together one of the better catching situations in baseball. The tandem of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki defied expectations, giving the Braves production that would have been the envy of most teams in the game. In 2017, their first season together, Braves catchers had .850 OPS, the second highest mark in the league. Obviously, that production would need to slip for the following year.
As expected, both Flowers and Suzuki regressed. However, they were still one of the better duos in the game, posting a .714 OPS. That mark, although it was far from their lofty production of the previous year, was still good enough to be the ninth best mark in the majors. The Braves had done quite well at the position at a bargain.
Of course, heading into this season, little was expected of the Braves. While improvement was expected, a playoff berth was not. However, after winning the NL East, expectations for the Braves have changed. With those expectations has come the belief that Atlanta should look to spend to augment their lineup.
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One of the positions that has been mentioned as a potential area for the Braves to spend is at catcher. With options like Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal available in free agency, it is understandable as to why the fanbase and experts alike feel that this is the time for the Braves to splurge behind the plate.
However, staying the course is the better option for the long term. Flowers is already under contract for 2019, and it would make sense to bring Suzuki back into the fold for one more year as well. In doing so, the Braves would then be able to make sure there is a path to the majors for their backstop of the future, William Contreras.
Contreras is still at least a year away, having gotten his first look at High-A in 2018. Along the way, the 20 year old posted an impressive .285/.347/.436 batting line, hitting 11 homers and 24 doubles. He also displayed his strong arm and agility behind the plate, helping Contreras to be one of the top catching prospects in the game.
Chances are, Contreras will spend the next year starting out the season with the Florida Fire Frogs once again. However, a hot start could lead to a promotion to AA, with the majors within sight. Should that happen, the Braves are not going to want to have an expensive veteran blocking one of the better catching prospects in baseball when there would be a much more cost effective option.
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With William Contreras getting closer to the majors, it does not make sense for the Atlanta Braves to splurge on a catcher this offseason. Instead, they should stay the course, and keep the duo of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki together for another year.