Even before a recent injury to Tyler Flowers, the Braves wanted to acquire a catcher this month who could serve as their primary starter in 2017, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. That means they will likely ask the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy, who they’ve kept tabs on in the past. They would, however, likely need to feel they could extend Lucroy if they were to acquire him, since he is eligible for free agency after his $5.25MM 2017 option.
In the wake of Flowers’ hand fracture, which Bowman previously reported could keep him out until September, the Braves are using A.J. Pierzynski and Anthony Recker behind the dish. Pierzynski, though, is 39 and has hit .206/.228/.250 this season, and Recker has never started in the big leagues for any extended period and has hit lightly in parts of six Major League seasons.
The team also just added George Kottaras on a minor league contract, as SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets, although that appears to be more of a depth move — Kottaras has at times shown good power for a catcher, but he has not collected more than 100 plate appearances in the big leagues since 2013 and played sparingly even in the minors in the last two seasons.
That’s not to say a major deal seems likely. Flowers hit well this season before his injury (.253/.343/.425), and his framing has been highly rated of late. He’s also under contract for 2017. Bowman notes that the Braves would like to use him as a backup next season (and he mostly hit like one in several seasons before 2016), but he appears to be at least a reasonable option as a starter. Also, Braves president of baseball operations John Hart doesn’t sound optimistic about the possibility of making a significant acquisition, although he acknowledges the team will try.
“Right now, I think we’d have to stand in line to get our catching position solved,” says Hart, via Bowman. “We’re certainly going to look at catching, but I don’t know that we’re going to find the right guy to step in right now. But don’t think for a minute we’re not examining the catching situation.”
This week, MLBTR’s Steve Adams examined this year’s trade market for catchers. Besides Lucroy, top options who are available through 2017 including Welington Castillo, Derek Norris and Cameron Rupp, among others. Former Braves backstop Brian McCann could also be available, although given McCann’s salary, that deal would likely have to be fairly complex. The Braves could also perhaps look for someone younger, although Bowman says they’re looking for someone who’s “established.”