The Braves made a change behind the plate, optioning catcher William Contreras to Triple-A and selecting the contract of veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy. To create 40-man roster space for Lucroy, southpaw Grant Dayton was moved to the 60-day injured list.
With Travis d’Arnaud injured for much of the season and not expected back until August, the Braves have gotten sub-replacement level production from the catching position this season, ranking 29th of 30 teams in catcher bWAR. Contreras initially looked good after being called up from Triple-A, but his bat cooled off, leaving the 23-year-old with a modest .204/.278/.387 slash line and seven home runs in 158 plate appearances.
It’s probably safe to assume that Contreras will be recalled at some point this season, perhaps as soon as he gets his timing back and strings together some good games at the plate for Triple-A Gwinnett. In the interim, Atlanta will make do at catcher with the veteran combo of Lucroy and Kevan Smith, and Alex Jackson is also on a rehab assignment after missing two months with a strained hamstring and an injured finger.
Lucroy inked a minor league deal with the Braves in May, about a month after he chose free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to the Nationals’ alternate training site. Lucroy appeared in five games with Washington this season and one game with the Red Sox in 2020, and it has now been several seasons since the former All-Star has been a significant force in a lineup.
Until Jackson is ready to return, Lucroy and Smith could essentially be competing to see who remains on the MLB roster, though Atlanta could also opt to keep the two veterans on hand and keep the less-experienced Jackson at Triple-A. While d’Arnaud’s return should theoretically stabilize matters, the Braves could certainly look to acquire catching help at the trade deadline, adding some depth in case d’Arnaud has a setback.