Early this offseason, the retirement of Braves legend Brian McCann in October enabled Atlanta to aggressively pursue alternative options behind the plate. McCann split time with Tyler Flowers in 2019, and while he provided a necessary veteran presence for a youthful roster, his production curtailed severely down the stretch. While replacing the leadership McCann provided is no small task, the Braves acted quickly in securing a replacement that should be more productive in Travis d’Arnaud. How will d’Arnaud and Flowers fare in 2020?
Entering the offseason, following the McCann announcement, many clamored for the Braves to sign Yasmani Grandal. That dream quickly evaporated as the White Sox signed Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal, but the Braves were quick to sign d’Arnaud before the catching market became too scarce. Now Atlanta has the comfort of relying on d’Arnaud and Flowers, who combined for 3.7 fWAR in 2019. Those numbers could be affected by an altered workload in 2020, but each player should once again provide significant value.
As noted in an MLB.com piece by Paul Casella, the reunion of d’Arnaud and Braves catching coach Sal Fasano, who worked together in Toronto, could pay dividends for Atlanta as d’Arnaud looks to improve upon a down season defensively in 2019. The Braves have been a consistent purveyor of platoons at the catching position in recent years, and will likely employ something similar next season. How do you feel about the Braves’ current catching situation?
You already know @Mike_Soroka28 of the @Braves is a good pitcher. After all, he was runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year last season and an All-Star.— Infield Chatter (@InfieldChatter) January 8, 2020
But did you know Soroka is also a good person with a heartbreaking story? pic.twitter.com/SAIimeDOSa
For all the fanfare that surrounded young Braves pitcher Mike Soroka in 2019, most are probably unaware of the hardships that the talented right-hander faced during his childhood. Soroka lost his mother to cancer at just 12 years old, but credits her along with his supportive father for helping mold him into the man that now dons a Braves uniform at 22 years old. If you have not already, watch this video.
The Braves will be busy over the next few weeks, even beyond their pursuit of a power bat, as they navigate their seven arbitration cases that remain unsettled. Atlanta managed to avoid arbitration hearings with each of their eligible players a year ago, and will likely attempt to replicate those efforts in 2020.
Regardless of the destination, should the Rockies opt to trade superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado, the deal will be one of the most fascinating in recent history. An opt-out, a full no-trade clause, and $234 million commitment are potential stumbling blocks to a trade, not to mention the package of prospects that Colorado would require in return.
One potential suitor for outfielder Nick Castellanos may be dropping out of the bidding. The Reds have long been rumored as a possible destination for Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna, but now reportedly feel less inclined to add an outfielder this offseason.