Braves Close To Deal With Free Agent Catcher Gerald Laird

Leon Halip

Laird would fill the void as backup catcher left by David Ross.

The signing isn't official yet, but according to Mark Bowman and other sources, the Braves are closing in on a deal with free agent catcher Gerald Laird. With David Ross now in Boston, Laird would serve as Atlanta's primary backup catcher behind Brian McCann, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. He'd serve as the starting catcher until McCann is healthy enough to assume the starting role again.

Laird spent 2012 with the AL Champion Detroit Tigers and, like Ross, hits from the right side. He's a .244/.303/.359 career hitter in 698 games, but hit .282/.337/.374 with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI in 191 plate appearances in 2012. He's hit better against right-handed pitching in his career, but this past year hit .382 in 76 at-bats against lefties as opposed to just .204 against righties.

Defensively, Laird is a solid backstop. He's no David Ross, but he's thrown out 35% of potential base stealers in his career. In 2012, though, he only had a 19% success rate (42 SB, 10 CS).

This would be a good sign for the Braves, as they'd fulfill one of their more pressing needs. Ross will certainly be missed, but Laird would fill the void adequately in my opinion. The specifics of the deal are not yet known.

UPDATE #1: Bowman has reported that Laird has agreed to a two-year contract with the Braves pending a physical. Financial details have yet to be revealed. He also mentioned that those who covered Laird in his days with Texas and Detroit say he's a great clubhouse presence, just like Ross was with the Braves.

UPDATE #2: Dave O'Brien has tweeted the amount of Laird's contract is estimated to be about $3.3 million for two years.

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