David Ross; no longer a Brave Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

David Ross To Sign With Red Sox

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Say It Ain’t So Frank

Braves fans will mourn this mornings news that their favorite backup catcher and all around great guy David Ross is reported by Ken Rosenthal – Update: and confirmed by Ross via Mark Bowman -to be signing a two year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

The 35 year old Ross was thought to be a certain return to Atlanta next year and fans will certainly want to know how Frank Wren and the Braves front office allowed Ross to get away. UPDATE EDIT: The Red Sox are paying Ross $6.2 Million over the next two years. The Braves payroll doesn’t allow that luxury for a backup catcher when there are so many out there.

Ross is considered by most to be the best number two catcher in the game and has performed superbly while in Atlanta helping Brian McCann with his defense as well as guiding a young pitching staff and delivering some key hits for the Braves.  He was well known as a practical joker and a great clubhouse presence providing leadership to a young team.

Year PA R H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2009 151 18 35 7 20 .273 .380 .508 .888 133
2010 145 15 35 2 28 .289 .392 .479 .871 136
2011 171 14 40 6 23 .263 .333 .428 .761 107
2012 196 18 45 9 23 .256 .321 .449 .770 105
ATL (4 yrs) 663 65 155 24 94 .269 .353 .463 .816 119
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/10/2012

Been There Before

Ross spent a short time with the Red Sox in 2008 after being released by the Reds and John Farrell was pitching coach at that time. Farrell  probably sees Ross as a mentor to Jarrod Saltalamacchia though this might also clear the way for a trade of Salty and the promotion their top catching prospect Ryan LavarnwayJarrod Saltalamacchia will almost certainly be traded as Ben Cherrington  has been trying to move him since July according to Jim Bowden.  Whatever the Red Sox motivation, Braves fans will want and explanation that doesn’t include the words indicate they weren’t willing to offer him a matching contract. The Cubs might well be Salty’s landing spot as they are in need of a catcher and Theo Epstein tried three time to get Salty before landing him for Boston. The Red Sox might well accept a healthy Matt Garza in exchange but that’s for the Sox and Cubs to sort out. For the Braves the question is. . .

What Now?

Brian McCann’s surgery means that he likely won’t be available until at least May and maybe later next season. The Braves heir apparent catching prospect Christian Bethancourt is at least a year and maybe two away. His defense is solid but his hitting has not yet developed enough to throw him into the caldron on major league baseball.  The free agent market has plenty of names but many are not a fit in Atlanta. You can find a complete listing on MLB Trade Rumors.  Here are some quick and thoughts from just glancing at the list.

Mike Napoli will instantly be rumored to be on our radar because that’s what pundits and fans do; go to the hottest name on the list.  Unless the Braves plan to trade McCann however, Napoli isn’t a good fit. He’s an everyday player limited to first and catching. With Freddie Freeman at first and without an unlikely though theoretically possible trade of McCann napoli is a not coming to Atlanta.

Dioner Navarro (28) caught 24 games for the Reds last year and seems a nice fit. He’s right handed and has a good history of throwing out runners – 136 of 459, about 30%.  His numbers suggest he would be snapped up but for some reason in a year when catchers moved around like pony express riders he couldn’t hold a job. The Reds paid him $1M last year and that would probably secure his services this year.

Miguel Olivo is another possibility. The RH hitting 34 year old doesn’t hit for much average but did deliver 12 homers in 87 games for Seattle last year and is good catch and throw man.  he earned $3.25M last year but at 34 can’t expect that much as a back up in 2013.

UPDATE EDIT: Here’s some comparison offensive data for selected options from Fangraphs.

Name
G PA H HR R RBI SB BB K ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG
Kelly Shoppach 76 245 51 8 23 27 1 7% 36% .192 .352 .233 .309 .425
Dioner Navarro 24 73 20 2 6 12 0 3% 16% .159 .321 .290 .306 .449
Miguel Olivo 87 323 70 12 27 29 3 2% 26% .159 .266 .222 .239 .381
Ronny Paulino 20 64 16 0 5 5 0 2% 14% .048 .296 .254 .266 .302

 

Also on the market and possibilities are Ronny Paulino, Humberto Quintero, Brian Schneider and Kelly Shoppach. At first blush I’d lean towards Navaro who should be fully recovered from surgery on his non-throwing arm this year and is young enough to fill the void should Bethancourt not materialize. Olivio would be second choice for now. Nothing else out there catches my eye.

That’s A Wrap

Ross’ departure is a punch in the gut to a team losing the leadership of Chipper Jones and who has their All Star catcher unavailable for at least a month and maybe more. two things are one thing is certain J.C. Boscan is not the answer and shouldn’t even be in the conversation and 2) fans will want to know from the GM exactly how they lost Ross.

 

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